Providing for the common defense is more than just a promise to our citizens and military. It is the foremost responsibility of the federal government, established in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.
Just recently, I was nominated by my colleagues to serve as the newest member of the House Armed Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over all defense and military policy, nuclear weapons production and military installations across our nation.
At a time when America is facing a vast array of unprecedented threats, ensuring the safety and security of the American people is my top priority. No matter the branch, rank or role, I’ve always held a deep admiration for our men and women in uniform, and, since coming to Congress, I’ve pledged to help support those who have answered the call to defend and protect the homeland.
I’m truly humbled by this opportunity, and I do not take this responsibility lightly. I’m proud to be a voice for Georgia on this critical committee. With nine military installations throughout the state, including a portion of Fort Gordon, home of the U.S. Army’s Cyber Center of Excellence, located in the 10th District, I will work tirelessly to ensure that the resources needed at these facilities are provided.
As many of you know, the cyber domain is the latest frontier in the war on terror, and we must face this emerging threat with every tool available. With approximately 16,000 military personnel, nearly 46,000 civilian employees of the Department of Defense, and more than $2 billion in investments, Augusta is well-positioned and quickly becoming the epicenter of cyber security, technology and workforce development.
Earlier this month, Gov. Nathan Deal fast-tracked the second phase of Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Center for Innovation and Training, a 165,000-square-foot facility in Augusta that will serve as an incubator for public-private partnerships and support small and medium-sized enterprises in our local communities as we work to develop our cyber workforce.
This is vital to our regional economy and to our national security interests, with an expected economic impact that will exceed $1 billion, including thousands of new jobs.
As the committee continues its work to rebuild our military, I will fight every day to ensure we construct a modern force that utilizes the cutting-edge capabilities created right here in our own community.
After more than five years of steady cuts to the defense budget, during which our men and women in uniform remained in continuous combat, our military has been constrained by the failure of the previous administration to commit needed resources. This neglect has created an alarming readiness gap that we must fix in the short-term.
I am confident Congress will soon come to an agreement that adequately funds the Department of Defense based upon the military’s needs. However, the duty of Congress to raise and regulate the Armed Forces goes beyond authorizing and appropriating funding; it is incumbent upon us to conduct rigorous oversight to identify ongoing problems, inefficiencies or shortfalls within our military and craft long-term, responsible solutions.
This includes streamlining and reforming antiquated acquisition processes, auditing the Pentagon and ensuring our service members have the resources they and their families need.
In this time where technology never stops evolving, it is essential that our military is able to acquire the most advanced weapons systems in a timely manner. We cannot afford to be technologically inferior to potential adversaries, and therefore must find ways to work with our industrial base on all platforms. We must rethink the way our military approaches space and defend our satellite network – which has become an integral part of every American’s daily life.
We must recruit and retain talented cyber warriors, who are on the front lines of the world’s newest and most hotly contested domain. We must find ways to reduce an at-times unsustainable operations tempo for our current force and assure our men and women in uniform that they and their families retain access to the benefits they have earned.
These challenges – and others – may seem daunting, but they must be addressed.
I am honored and humbled to be part of the process of crafting policies to resolve these issues, and look forward to working diligently with my colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee to fulfill our sacred constitutional duty and defend our great country.
Congressman Jody Hice is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, serving in his second-term, and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and House Natural Resources Committee.