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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate yesterday to argue for support for the National Defense Authorization Act, which is currently being debated in the Senate. The measure seeks to ensure that our military has the resources it needs to carry out its missions, including critical support in the aftermath of recent hurricanes. 

Isakson opened his remarks by acknowledging military service members who are helping in recovery efforts from Hurricanes Irma and Harvey and by thanking every level of preparation and storm response that has allowed for a speedy response in Georgia, starting with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. 

“In Georgia, we lost three lives, which is tragic. We’re sorry for each one of them and our hearts go out to those families,” said Isakson. “Our preparation by Governor Nathan Deal and other leaders in the state saw to it that our reaction and our timeliness was excellent. I want to thank Governor Nathan Deal as well as Georgia Emergency Management in coordination with the agency of FEMA who worked to ensure that everywhere we had danger in Georgia, we also had response for our people and for our state.” 

Isakson also highlighted the urgent need to pass the National Defense Authorization Act to provide our warfighters with the tools and resources to counter ongoing threats, including continued support for the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) mission based out of Georgia. 

“JSTARS is an asset of our U.S. military and our intelligence agencies with a capability that is second to none in the world,” said Isakson. “Since the Gulf War and everything that’s happened in the Middle East and ensued since then, [JSTARS] has been invaluable in command and control capabilities on the ground. It is an intelligence capability that is unmatched by any of our military adversaries in the world.” 

Isakson noted that he had a visit earlier in the day Wednesday from Heather Wilson, secretary of the U.S. Air Force, who confirmed to him that the branch was considering other ways of delivering JSTARS’ services to military personnel. 

He expressed serious concerns about the Air Force’s “inexplicable” consideration of abandoning this proven and successful platform. 

“Our country and our soldiers and our warfighters have benefitted greatly on the ground and in the air, from JSTARS’ surveillance capabilities,” Isakson observed. 

“I would submit if the Air Force were to decide that rather than recapitalizing the JSTARS program that we’ve been working on for the last few years, they would go to an alternative delivery system, they’re probably giving up security for our country, intel for our men and women on the ground, battlefield coordination you could not replace any other way, and an asset that we’ve taken for granted for far too long in this country,” he argued. 

In addition, Isakson committed to supporting the National Defense Authorization Act, and noted the work of Senate Committee on Armed Services Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on the bill. 

“I came to the floor to say that I’m with you, and I support you,” said Isakson. “But I want to make sure we do everything we can to ensure the JSTARS [program] and the capabilities of that mission are recapitalized for our soldiers in the future and our military in the future. For us to fail to do so… would be bad for our soldiers, bad for our security and bad for our country.” 

Isakson’s remarks are available to view here. 

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