Helping to keep our military strong


Fort Dodge Messenger

Sen. Joni Ernst’s voice is being heard in Washington

Making sure that our nation’s military forces remain strong is one of the most crucial obligations of Congress. A key part of that function is crafting each year detailed authorization legislation for a wide-range of national defense activities.

The U.S. Senate’s Armed Services Committee has just completed its work on the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act — usually referred to as NDAA — and sent it to the full Senate for a vote.

Iowans should take special pride in the major role in developing the NDAA that U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst has played. More than 50 provisions included of that defense game plan for the next fiscal year were proposed by the Iowa Republican. Her colleagues viewed her perspective on military issues as particularly helpful due to Ernst’s long service to the nation in uniform and status as one of the relatively few combat veterans in Congress.

“As a former company commander and retired lieutenant colonel, I understand the need and obligation to provide our men and women in uniform with the support and resources they need to carry out their mission and protect our great homeland,” Ernst said regarding the committee’s work.

As the Congress considers what military capabilities the United States must possess to discharge its responsibilities in a troubled world, Ernst has been given a key responsibility. She chairs the Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.

“We must have a ready and modernized military with cutting edge technology — prepared not only for the fight of today, but for the fight of tomorrow,” Ernst said.

The crucial work of that subcommittee is shaping our military’s missions and is reflected in the NDAA.

Ernst is also acutely aware of the importance of providing a work environment for service personnel that is safe and respects their diversity. In that regard, she has worked hard to make certain that when domestic or sexual abuse occurs affecting military personnel and their families it is appropriately addressed and victims’ rights are protected. She made sure that the NDAA expands support for victims and provides senior commanders with more oversight responsibilities to prosecute these serious offenses.

Some of the provisions Ernst advocated that were included in the NDAA have a direct impact on the Hawkeye State. Here are three that the senator emphasized in a statement praising the bill:

• Sustaining and enhancing the workload at the Rock Island Arsenal;

• Ensuring the production of much-needed combat munitions at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant; and

• Working with the Pentagon to find solutions to PFAS contamination at military installations, such as in the groundwater at Air National Guard Base in Sioux City.

The Messenger commends Ernst for her work on the Armed Services Committee. In sending her to Washington, Iowans recognized that she has the vision and talent to be an exceptionally valuable member of the Senate. The outstanding job she is doing has kept faith with the trust voters placed in her.