Weekly Columns

Arkansas Defense Tour

Oct 24 2014

Among the work awaiting Congress’ return to Washington is passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which determines what gets funded and how the U.S. government will spend on national defense. With the new missions our military is undertaking overseas—fighting the barbaric terrorists of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and trying to fix the World Health Organization’s failure to contain the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa—we must ensure that our men and women in uniform have the tools they need to protect our national security.

Working together, the Arkansas delegation fights to secure the resources and create a level playing field that ensures Arkansas remains an important contributor to our nation’s defense. We must continue that unified support for the servicemembers stationed at Arkansas installations, as well as those working to create the weapons and equipment used by our troops.  

That is why I spent a week on the road visiting some of Arkansas’s military installations and manufacturers that contribute to our national defense and the protection of our nation’s servicemembers. 

Our tour included stops at two installations, the Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, where they do outstanding work to sustain the Army's fleet of tactical wheeled vehicles and Camp Robinson, the home and principle training facility of the Arkansas National Guard. 

During the tour, I also visited industry leaders who produce weapons, ammunition and equipment for the Department of Defense (DoD) right here in Arkansas. We went to General Dynamics in Hampton; Power Technology Inc. in Alexander; and Raytheon, Spectra Technologies and Aerojet Rocketdyne in Camden. 

At each visit, we discussed the impact that Congressional budgeting, including sequestration is having on operations. It is our job in Congress to provide our military with a budget and find a solution to sequestration so that we can ensure the readiness, effectiveness and safety of our troops are the top priority. We live in dangerous times and cannot afford to cut corners with our national security. We must maintain a strong national defense—with the most advanced technologies and cutting edge tools—and Arkansas facilities and defense manufacturers play an important role in that effort. 

Arkansas has a big stake in the NDAA debate as DoD employs nearly 24,000 Arkansans. Projected defense spending in Arkansas in 2015 is more than $3.3 billion. We need to ensure that Arkansas remains an important contributor to our nation’s defense. This tour provided me with critical information to take back to Washington and showcase the importance of Arkansas defense facilities. 

I am honored to represent a state with the rich military history that we have in Arkansas, as well as the men and women who are called to duty to protect the freedoms we cherish and those who produce the equipment that allow them to accomplish their missions and return home safely.