All nine new members of the Senate Armed Services Committee—six Republicans
and three Democrats—plan to focus much of their attention this year on
military readiness, force modernization and base-closure issues.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, of San Antonio, who replaced fellow Republican Sen.
Phil Gramm, said he came to Congress determined to promote a healthy debate
on national defense issues. “Military spending during the previous administration
left us vulnerable,” he said. “It created instability and the potential
for attacks, even such as those we saw on September 11.”
In an interview on Capitol Hill, he described himself as a military brat whose
father, a B-17 pilot in World War II, was an oral pathologist in the Air Force.
Cornyn served as Texas’ attorney general from 1999 to 2002. During his
campaign for the Senate seat, he visited virtually all of the 17 active U.S.
military installations in Texas.
“Texas is uniquely situated in terms of military recruitment,”
he said. “Seventy percent of the military calls Texas home.”
There also is a heavy defense-industry presence in the state. The V-22 Osprey
program and the Joint Strike Fighter both have production facilities in Texas.
Regarding the Base Realignment and Closure process, Cornyn said that “Texas
has already contributed, and I hope it will not be asked to contribute more
in terms of closing bases. It has a huge impact on the economy and the quality
of life for soldiers.
“I plan to work with our local communities to make sure the bases work
in conjunction with the overall missions of the military,” he added.
Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., is not a freshman senator, but this year marks his
first on Armed Services. He told National Defense that the most important issues
for the committee and this Congress are homeland defense and fighting the war
The September 11 attacks, he said, “solidified my belief that we live
in a new world, one in which we have no other choice but to be proactive, and
to do all we can to prevent terrorist attacks before they happen. This includes
taking the war to the terrorists where they operate, confronting states that
give them safe harbor, cutting off their funding sources, and making sure they
are not provided weapons of mass destruction.
“The work of the new department (of homeland security) is critical, and
Congress has an essential role in making sure it gets started up properly and
becomes effective as quickly as possible,” he said.
“I support making our armed forces as efficient and effective as possible.
Doing so means always making sure our forces are properly aligned and that we
are not overly dependent on the force and base structure of the last war.
“We need to make sure the next round of base closures is done in a fair,
transparent way that takes into account changes made to existing bases and how
those bases now contribute to today’s reformed military requirements,”
Bayh said. “We stand on the cusp of possible military operations in Iraq
and a growing conflict with North Korea. Now more than ever, we must ensure
that our troops have the tools and support to get the job done safely, effectively
Bayh is concerned about protecting the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center from
any downsizing during the next round of BRAC. “Crane provides valuable
services to the Navy and Army, and has played a vital role in recent military
campaigns, the war on terror and enhancing homeland security,” he said.
Freshman Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., previously served four terms on the House
Armed Services Committee and the subcommittee on military research and development.
He was also a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence. Chambliss
was chairman of the subcommittee on terrorism and homeland security on the Intelligence
Committee. In addition to his post on SASC, he will also serve on the Senate
This experience, he said, “allows me to hit the ground running in terms
of knowing and understanding our defense issues, needs and priorities.”
Chambliss was active in the House’s well-known Depot Caucus, and he said
he would be working to develop an informal Depot Caucus on the Senate side,
working with Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.; Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Sen.
Robert Bennett, R-Utah.
“I am committed to ensuring that the men and women in uniform who bravely
serve our nation every day have the resources and equipment they need to do
their jobs,” he said. Another priority for Chambliss is the missile-defense
In the modernization arena, he is particularly supportive of the Air Force
F-22 program, the C-17 Globemaster, the C-130 and C-130J Hercules programs,
all of which have manufacturing plants in Georgia.
The Air Force Joint STARS radar surveillance plane is based at Robins Air Force,
As far as BRAC goes, Chambliss will work to protect Georgia’s 13 military
installations and the state’s defense industry.
Touring Georgia’s military installations, he said, “gives me unique
insights to our military’s and our military’s personnel needs. When
I visit these bases, I make a point to not only visit with the base commanders,
but also the rank and file enlisted men and women to hear their concerns.”
During the last BRAC round, Chambliss was actively involved in advocating the
interests of Georgia’s bases. The same can be expected for the 2005 BRAC,
“Fort Benning would be hard to replicate somewhere else. Forces Command
is at Fort McPherson in Atlanta. They’re not redundant from other places
in the military,” he said.
“It is necessary for our military to regularly evaluate their needs and
adjust our force structure as necessary. We must be prepared to engage in significant
conflicts simultaneously if or when necessary. I look forward to working with
each base and each community to ensure they are ably meeting the mission needs
… and to improve their long-term viability,” he said.
Sen. Elizabeth Dole
Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C, said that being married to a World War II veteran—former
Kansas Sen. Robert Dole—has helped her understand many of the issues affecting
the military community today. As secretary of transportation under President
Reagan, she was the first female to head a branch of the U.S. Armed Services,
the Coast Guard.
“Bob Dole left home to fight on the front lines in World War II as part
of the 10th Mountain Division,” she told National Defense. “As he
led his men to destroy a machine gun nest hidden in a farmhouse, a shell fragment
shattered his shoulder. He spent 39 months in various hospitals, and doctors
operated on him eight times. To this day, he lives with those injuries and endures
them. His life is not unlike the story of many veterans, I imagine. So, in a
personal way, I understand the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and
I’ll seek to honor their heroism and service to our country,” she
As a freshman senator, Dole said she will focus on homeland defense and on
protecting North Carolina’s military facilities in the next round of BRAC.
“With nearly 60 percent of the troops in Afghanistan from North Carolina
bases, I feel fortunate to have a seat on the Armed Services Committee where
I’ll be a strong advocate for our men and women in uniform and for North
Carolina’s military communities.
“I’ll fight to keep our bases as important and as viable as they
are today,” she said. “The Army troops from Fort Bragg, the Marines
from Camp Lejeune, Cherry Point and New River, the Air Force from Pope and Seymour
Johnson Air Force Base will have no stronger supporter,” she said.
“Protecting the U.S. homeland is an urgent priority, and we must give
our armed forces, intelligence agencies and law enforcement the resources that
they need to keep America safe, including higher pay and better benefits,”
Dole said. “I also will make readiness funding a very high priority, so
that our troops have all the training they need, have the best and the best
maintained equipment and do not lack for spare parts.”
Dole voiced strong support for missile defense programs. “Rogue nations
and terrorist regimes—who already have access to ballistic missile technologies—continue
to develop, or seek access to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. We need
a national defense strategy that reflects the challenges we face today,”
She said she is hopeful that the Navy locates future F/A-18 Super Hornet squadrons
at Cherry Point. “Basing the planes there could mean up to $50 million
a year in much-needed economic growth in Craven County, which would translate
into new and good jobs for eastern North Carolina,” she said. “Since
the Havelock area would get most of the economic benefit, I think we certainly
should look at a possible parallel landing strip there.”
Another priority for Dole is the Coast Guard’s Deepwater program, “which
would allow the Coast Guard to modernize its fleet of ships and aircraft and
give make it possible to effectively conduct anti-terror activities,”
she said. “This will involve the modernization of the North Carolina-based
cutters, and the aircraft and helicopters at Air Station Elizabeth City. …
And it’s also critical that activities not directly related to homeland
security, such as the U.S. Coast Guard’s search and rescue mission, are
adequately funded,” she said.
“As we move forward with establishing congressional funding and oversight
of the Department [of Homeland Security], the safety and security of all Americans
must be our foremost concern,” she said.
Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., a former state attorney general, said he is concerned
about military readiness and the transformation and modernization of U.S. weapon
systems. “I would like to focus efforts on identifying emerging terrorist
operations and the containment of nuclear weapons programs in rogue nations,”
“When we talk about emerging terrorist threats and a strong homeland
security, we must ensure that the federal government is a helpful partner with
state and local governments. We [need to] share the responsibilities for homeland
security wisely and fairly, and that local governments are given the resources
to complete this task,” he said.
Regarding BRAC, Pryor said that he looks forward to “working with the
Pentagon to ensure we pinpoint and promote those bases that are at the forefront
of our military strategic needs and that are vital to our national security.”
Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., like Chambliss, has served for the last eight years
on the House Armed Services Committee.
Missouri is home to the U.S. Army’s Fort Leonard Wood and to Whiteman
Air Force Base. One of the nation’s largest defense contractors, Boeing,
is located in St. Louis. Talent said that Missouri is a heavily dependent on
defense dollars and that “increased military spending means jobs and economic
security for Missourians.”
“I am optimistic about the next Congress and what we can accomplish on
behalf of America’s national and homeland security. … I’m
looking forward to working together with senators on both sides of the aisle
to help win the war against terrorism, to provide our military men and women
with the training and equipment they need to do their job and to protect our
families at home.”
Other new members of SASC include Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; John Ensign,
R-Nev., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.