The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wisconsin.
Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I call up amendment No. 2808 and ask for its immediate consideration.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the pending Gramm amendment also be set aside at this time.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
The clerk will report the amendment.
The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:
The Senator from Wisconsin [Mr. Feingold], for himself and Mr. Kohl, proposes an amendment numbered 2808.
Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that reading of the amendment be dispensed with.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
The amendment is as follows:
At the end of subtitle B of title II, add the following:
SEC. . TERMINATION OF THE EXTREMELY LOW FREQUENCY COMMUNICATION SYSTEM PROGRAM.
(a) Termination of Program: The Secretary of the Navy shall terminate the Extremely Low Frequency Communication System program.
(b) Payment of Termination Costs: Funds that are available on or after the date of the enactment of this Act for the Department of Defense for obligation for the Extremely Low Frequency Communication System program of the Navy may be obligated for that program only for payment of the costs associated with the termination of the program.
(c) Use of Savings for National Guard: Funds referred to in subsection (b) that are not necessary for terminating the program under this section shall be transferred (in accordance with such allocation between the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard as the Secretary of Defense shall direct) to funds available for the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard for operation and maintenance for the same fiscal year as the funds transferred, shall be merged with the funds to which transferred, and shall be available for the same period and purposes as the funds to which transferred.
Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, my amendment terminates the Navy's Extremely Low Frequency Communications System and uses the savings from it to offset funding increases for our National Guard. I am very pleased to be joined in introducing this amendment by our senior Senator from Wisconsin, Mr. Kohl.
Mr. President, the amendment would limit funds appropriated in this bill for the Navy's Extremely Low Frequency Communications System or, as is it called, Project ELF, and it involves the termination of this program. It is time to mothball the project and use the savings to correct a significant shortfall that we have in this authorization bill in the funding for the National Guard's operations and maintenance account. Project ELF is in Wisconsin, but it is an ineffective, unnecessary, outdated, cold-war relic that is not wanted by most residents of our State.
The members of the Wisconsin delegation have consistently fought for years to close down this Project ELF. I have introduced legislation during each Congress that I have been here to terminate it. And I have also attempted and have, in fact, recommended it for closure to the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission.
This project has been opposed by residents of Wisconsin since its inception, but for years we were told that the national security considerations of the cold war outweighed our concerns about having this installation in our State. As we continue our efforts to reduce the Federal budget deficit and as the Department of Defense continues to struggle to meet a tighter budget, it is just absolutely clear that Project ELF should be closed down. If enacted, this amendment would save approximately $12 million a year.
Project ELF is simply a one-way, primitive messenger system designed to signal to but not actually communicate with deeply submerged Trident submarines, so it is really just a bellringer. It is like a pricy beeper system used to tell the submarine when it should rise to the surface to get the actual detailed message through real communications systems. This was designed a long time ago. It was designed when the threat and consequences of detection to our submarines was real. But ELF was never developed to an effective capability, and the demise of the Soviet threat has certainly rendered at least this program unnecessary.
With the end of the cold war, Project ELF has become harder and harder to justify. Trident submarines no longer need to take this extra precaution against Soviet nuclear forces. They now can surface on a regular basis with less danger of detection or attack. They also receive more complicated messages through very low frequency, or VLF, radio waves or lengthier messages through satellite systems if it can be done more cheaply.
During the 103d Congress, Mr. President, I worked with our former colleague, Senator Nunn from Georgia, and included an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994 that required a report by the Secretary of Defense on the benefits and the costs of continued operation of this Project ELF. The report issued by DOD was particularly disappointing because it basically argued that because Project ELF may have had a purpose during the cold war, it should somehow continue to operate after the cold war as part of the complete complement of command and control links that were configured with the cold war in mind.
So if the question is, Did Project ELF play a role in
helping to minimize the Soviet threat? Perhaps. Did it do so at risk to the community? Perhaps. But does it continue to play a vital security role to this Nation? No, it doesn't. It does not have that role.
In the 1995 rescissions bill, the Senate, as a whole, recommended the termination for Project ELF. Somehow again, though, the program survived when some conference committee members claimed to have `newly released, highly classified justifications' for the program's continuation. When I looked into these claims and was assured by the Navy and Strategic Command that no new classified justifications existed, I continued my effort to try to get rid of this program. Again, the Senate cut funding for the program in 1996 in the DOD authorization bill but somehow it was again resurrected in conference.
I would like you to know that both congressional representatives who have ELF installations in their areas, Representatives Obey and Stupak, support getting rid of this project. Also, former commander in chief of the Strategic Command, General George Lee Butler, called for an end to the cold-war nuclear weapons practices, of which Project ELF is a harrowing reminder.
Additionally, the Center for Defense Information called for ending the program, noting that `U.S. submarines operating under present and foreseeable worldwide military conditions can receive all necessary orders and instructions in timely fashion without need for Project ELF.'
As I mentioned, Mr. President, the savings from terminating this Project ELF would offset increases for National Guard operations and maintenance, O&M. As we all know, the National Guard expects this year a $594 million budget shortfall for the coming year, almost a $600 million shortfall for our National Guard, and this follows fast on the heels of a $743 million shortfall for the National Guard during the current fiscal year.
According to the National Guard, these shortfalls are, in fact, compromising the Guard's readiness levels, capabilities, force structure, and end strength. The National Guard's O&M account shortfall directly affects surface operations tempo, real property maintenance, depot maintenance, information and telecommunications management, and medical support.
The President's 1999 budget request leaves the National Guard's O&M account a significant $450 million below what it really must be in order to meet the needs of the Guard and, therefore, the needs of our military and our country. The shortfalls have increasingly greater effect given the National Guard's increased operations burdens. This is a result of new missions and increased deployments and training requirements, including the National Guard's critical role in places like Bosnia, the Iraq situation, Haiti and Somalia.
Just to give my colleagues some background, as of now the Army National Guard represents 34 percent of all--total Army forces, including 55 percent of combat divisions and brigades, 46 percent of the combat support, and 25 percent of combat service support. And, yet, despite these very high figures of the critical and central role of the National Guard, the National Guard just gets 9.5 percent of the Army's funding.
In total numbers, the National Guard receives just 71 percent of its requested funding as opposed to the Active Army getting 80 percent and the Army Reserves getting 81 percent.
It is time we moved toward giving the National Guard adequate and equal funding. While this amendment would certainly not achieve funding equity for the National Guard, it is a step in the right direction. It does increase funding for the nation's only constitutionally mandated defense force, the National Guard.
Finally, I would like to briefly mention the public health and environmental concerns that have sometimes been associated with Project ELF. For almost two decades, we have received inconclusive data on this project's effects on Wisconsin and Michigan residents. In 1984, a U.S. district court ordered the project be shut down because the Navy paid inadequate attention to the system's possible health effects and violated the national environmental policy. Interestingly, that decision was overturned because U.S. national security at the time, Mr. President--at the time--prevailed over public health and environmental concerns. Obviously, at that time the cold war was still occurring.
More than 40 medical studies point to a link between electromagnetic pollution and cancer and abnormalities in both animal and plant species. Metal fences near the two transmitters must be grounded to avoid serious shock from the presence of high voltages.
Mr. President, I would like to bring to the attention of my colleagues this article from this morning's Washington Post. An international committee, convened by the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences undertook the study of electric and magnetic fields as a possible cause of cancer. Project ELF produces the same kind of electric and magnetic fields cited by this distinguished committee, and the committee's announcement seems to confirm some of the fears of many Wisconsinites.
At this point, I ask unanimous consent to have this article printed, also to follow my remarks in the Record.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
(See Exhibit 1.)
Mr. FEINGOLD. Earlier this year, a coalition of fiscal conservatives and environmentalists targeted, among other programs, Project ELF, because it harms both the Federal budget deficit and the environment. The coalition which includes groups like the Concord Coalition, Taxpayers for Common Sense, the National Wildlife Federation and Friends of the Earth, took aim at about 70 wasteful and dangerous programs, and this was one of them. I hope we heed their suggestion and end this program.
This amendment achieves two vital goals of many of my colleagues here. It terminates a wasteful and unnecessary cold-war era program, while providing funding increases for the National Guard. It is truly a win/win situation and I hope my colleagues will support this amendment.
The kind of electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) that typically surround electric power lines should be regarded as a `possible human carcinogen,' a federally sponsored advisory panel concluded yesterday.
The 29-member international committee, convened by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and meeting outside Minneapolis, voted 19 to 9 to consider power-line EMFs as a possible cause of cancer. Eight members found that the fields could not be classified as causing cancer, and one decided that EMFs are probably not carcinogenic in humans.
In a statement, NIEHS said that the majority was most influenced by epidemiological studies that `showed a slight increase in childhood leukemia risk from power-line/residential exposures, and an increase in chronic leukemia risk in adults in electricity-intensive industries.'
The possible link between EMFs and cancer is highly controversial. Some other advisory groups, including panels of the National Cancer Institute and National Academy of Sciences, have noted the same association but found it inconclusive.
The panel's recommendation will be included in a report that NIEHS, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, is scheduled to present to Congress and regulatory agencies in coming months.
`This report does not suggest that the risk is high,' said committee chairman Michael Gallo of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Medical School. `It is probably quite small, compared to many other public health risks. However, I strongly believe that additional . . . research should be pursued to reduce uncertainties in this arena.'
Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, how much time do I have remaining?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has 9 minutes 40 seconds remaining.
Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays on the amendment.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
There is a sufficient second.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
Mr. FEINGOLD. I yield the floor.
Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, I rise today as a cosponsor of this amendment to eliminate the Extremely Low Frequency or ELF System, and transfer these funds, some $12 million, to the National Guard. I commend my colleague from Wisconsin, Senator Feingold, for his persistent efforts to kill this cold war relic.
It is amazing to me that no matter how many times the Senate votes in favor of eliminating this little known and obsolete system, it continues to reemerge in conference. In an era of tight budgets, with pressures to fund operations abroad and maintain modernization efforts at home, we need to take a closer took at the ELF System and recognize that we have far more compelling needs even within the defense budget.
Project ELF was conceived solely to launch and win a nuclear war. It was designed to protect submerged submarines from Soviet detection. Unfortunately, ELF's capabilities are minimal and, given the end of the cold war, its rationale is dubious. ELF is a communications system for sending one-way pre-formatted messages from shore commands to submarines operating at high speeds and depth without exposing antennae on the ocean surface. ELF's message capability is very limited and very slow--three letters take 15 minutes to transmit--so a submarine must still surface to retrieve communications. This poses serious questions about the protection ELF can provide to our submarine fleet.
ELF's transmitting facilities are located in Clam Lake, WI and Republic, MI. The two antennae work together to strengthen the signal. The Clam Lake antenna is 28 miles long with two sets of wires strung on telephone poles. The wires form an X running several miles out in four directions from the center.
The existence of this large antenna in Wisconsin has raised health and environmental questions over the years. At best the data on the risks posed by this facility are inconclusive. At worst, more than 40 medical studies point to a link between electromagnetic pollution and cancer. The people of Wisconsin would rather not have this question mark hanging over their heads.
Directing ELF's funding to the National Guard would be a much better use of these funds. The National Guard has been under funded in the FY99 budget request and the trend continues in that direction: Unfunded requirements for the Army National Guard could exceed $1.2 billion by 2002 if current trends continue. Our amendment will help address this shortfall.
Let me just conclude by noting that people of Wisconsin do not want this system in their borders. For years now, we have been working with the members of Congress in whose districts this system is based to shut it down. We almost succeeded in 1995 when the Senate Appropriations Committee rescinded funding for ELF in the Defense supplemental. At that time, I was told that the Navy wasn't interested in funding ELF anymore. Furthermore, when the Strategic Command was asked about the ELF program, it was lukewarm in its support, indicating that they would like to see ELF funded but they couldn't possibly fund it out of their own budget. Yet, at the last minute in conference, the House announced that there was new and classified information that supposedly revealed that ELF is essential to national security. The Defense Department has since weighed in with a letter saying it would like to keep ELF.
Our inability to kill ELF is a perfect example of how we can't seem to shed the Cold War infrastructure that has shaped our defense budgets for so many years. We pay much lip service to `defense reform' and making defense spending relevant to threats of the future, but when we have a small opportunity to demonstrate our resolve in this area, we cower at the thought of dismantling even one small system.
Mr. President, let's not hesitate this time. Let's eliminate this anachronism once and for all. I thank my colleague from Wisconsin for his leadership on this issue.
Mr. THURMOND. Mr. President, I rise to oppose the Feingold amendment to terminate the Navy's Extremely Low Frequency communications system.
The so-called Project ELF is a vital communications system that allows the United States to send messages to submarines that are traveling in very deep water. These messages tell submarines to come closer to the surface to receive more detailed communications. ELF is the only way to get a message to attack and ballistic missile submarines when they are at their normal operating depths.
Contrary to the argument made by the Senator from Wisconsin, Project ELF is not a cold war relic. The system remains as vital as ever. The need for the United States to have a survivable submarine force remains essential. ELF is not only needed to send messages to U.S. ballistic missile submarines but also to attack submarines.
In the post-Cold Ware era, the United States will place even greater emphasis on the submarine force for strategic deterrence. A survivable Trident submarine force is essential. This was reaffirmed in the Administration's Nuclear Posture Review, which recommended the retention of 14 Trident submarines for the foreseeable future. In a letter to the Armed Services Committee the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Strategic Command, wrote the following: `Both ELF communications sites, operating simultaneously, are needed to meet our worldwide requirements. Dismantling this critical system would unacceptably impact the survivability and flexibility of our submarine force.' Just this week the nominee to be the next Commander-in-Chief of Strategic Command, Admiral Richard Mies, reaffirmed STRATCOM's strong support for the ELF system.
The need for a survivable U.S. submarine force did not end with the Cold War. Russia retains an aggressive anti-submarine warfare program designed to develop advanced capabilities to track and destroy all types of U.S. submarines. The United States continues to invest billions of dollars to maintain and modernize our submarine force. Other countries, such as Iran, are also acquiring an attack submarine force.
Congress continues to strongly support development of a New Attack Submarine. This important submarine modernization program is justified, in part, by Russia's aggressive ASW program. If the Senate is willing to sustain such programs, we should sustain Project ELF. If we terminate this communications program we will save approximately $10 million per year, but put at risk a multi-billion dollar investment in our submarine force.
The assertion has also been made that the ELF system may pose a public health threat. There is no evidence to substantiate this assertion. This question has been extensively studied. Each assessment has concluded that there is no risk to public safety.
The Department of Defense opposes the Feingold legislation to terminate project ELF. In a letter dated May 7, 1997, the DOD General Counsel wrote that: `The Department of Defense, Joint Staff, the Department of the Navy, and U.S. Strategic Command all agree on the necessity of maintaining the ELF system.' The letter also stated that: `ELF is the only communications system available that ensures the maintenance of these critical communication links. Costly new research and development would have to be done to provide another communications path to our submarines to ensure our ability to communicate at speed and depth.'
Mr. President, in summary, this amendment would jeopardize the security of the entire U.S. submarine force. There is no benefit to canceling this program and the risk of doing so is extremely high. I urge my colleagues to reject this amendment.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wisconsin.
Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I will use a bit more of the time I am allotted. I would like to briefly respond to the distinguished chairman. He indicated, first of all, the distinguished Senator from Michigan, who is a member of the Armed Services Committee, has been a critic of the Project ELF program long prior to the time I was serving in the Senate. Surely the Senator from Michigan would not support such a termination if it truly was a threat to our entire submarine system and our national security.
In particular, Mr. President, there were apparently, at least arguably, benefits to this program at one point. But these justifications that have just been identified no longer can be defended. I tried very hard for 5 years to find exactly what it is that is so critical that this system does, and I can't find it. Let me review briefly what the problem is with this ELF program.
It is an unsophisticated technology which is designed to only signal to, not actually substantively communicate with, a deeply submerged Trident submarine. It is entirely ineffective in communicating anything of substance. While Project ELF may provide an additional form of communication, it is really just redundant over the communications systems we now have at this time.
Any benefit from this is just marginal. It cannot communicate messages. It can just give phonetic-letter-spelled-out messages at the rate of 1 pulse per 5 minutes. And wartime messages, except messages to strike, presumably would require more sophisticated methods.
We are dismantling our first-strike capability. In order to act in combat, submarines have to come to the surface anyway, Mr. President, in order to receive messages and to launch missiles. So they are at risk of detection anyway at precisely the moment that we are talking about. Even in its optimum construction, Project ELF has no nuclear survivability; it has no nuclear dependability and, thus, it really doesn't have any wartime efficacy.
The justifications that have been given again here are the old ones. They do not fit the reality of the post-Soviet submarine era, and that is the reason why there is a justification for this amendment. It saves money, and it provides funding for our National Guard that desperately needs the help.
This is what is sometimes so frustrating about trying to ask the Defense Department just to give up something that they don't need. I understand criticisms of proposals for across-the-board cuts that mindlessly say, `Let's just cut out a percentage of the defense budget.' That can't possibly be a reflection of the needs of our national security. But when a careful effort has been made over many years by Members of both bodies of our Congress to identify a specific program as outdated and is a cold-war relic, it seems to me it is our job in this body to say, `Wait a minute; this $12 million a year is wasted.'
I am not even asking in this amendment that it be put into some other area of Government. I am asking that it be put into our National Guard, which I can tell you, having visited several armories in Wisconsin recently, the National Guard in Wisconsin has inventory problems. They can't get the training they need, and they don't have the personnel they need. They are, unlike Project ELF, critical to our national security.
Mr. President, how much time do I have remaining?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has 5 minutes 45 seconds.
Mr. FEINGOLD. I reserve the remainder of my time and yield the floor.
Ms. COLLINS addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maine.
Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I rise to add my voice to those who have already spoken in support of the defense authorization bill. Providing for the common defense is the single most important responsibility of a national government. If we fail in this regard, all the other aspects of our public policy become irrelevant. I am particularly pleased with the significant role that my own State of Maine plays in our national defense.
The legislation brought to us by the Armed Services Committee--and I commend the leaders of the committee for their tremendous efforts--recognizes Maine's contributions in a number of ways. Perhaps none is more significant than the contribution of the State of Maine in the field of naval shipbuilding. This is where the skill and the dedication of Maine workers at Bath Iron Works provide the U.S. Navy with state-of-the-art Arleigh Burke class destroyers, the backbone of our destroyer fleet. Fortunately, this bill ensures this will be true for years to come, because the legislation continues the Navy's multiyear procurement program for the Arleigh Burke class.
The bill also provides funding for the new LPD-17 amphibious ship which will be built in Bath and will help the Marine Corps maintain its local reach for years to come.
Moreover, this bill provides continued funding for the Navy's next generation of destroyers, the DD-21. With the DD-21, Mainers will continue to play a pivotal role on the cutting edge of American sea power through Bath's participation in the `shipbuilding alliance' that will construct this powerful and innovative new ship for our 21st-century Navy.
Other provisions of importance to my State increase funding to modernize and reconfigure the Navy's P-3 maritime patrol aircraft. This should permit these tried-and-true workhorses of naval aviation, operating out of bases such as the Brunswick Naval Air Station in Maine, to continue protecting our security for years to come. This bill also recognizes and supports the contributions of a number of very important defense contractors in Maine, including Saco Defense, Pratt & Whitney and Fiber Materials International of Biddeford.
Furthermore, having learned a great deal about the extraordinary high-tech chemical and biological sensor laboratory at the University of Maine, I am also proud of the groundbreaking role Maine is playing in this crucial field. Recent events in Iraq and elsewhere illustrate the grave threats posed by the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons, the so-called poor man's atomic bomb. If we are to protect Americans against such threats, our troops in the field and our citizens at home need access to small, portable, state-of-the-art sensors capable of detecting such threats quickly and efficiently. I am proud that the University of Maine and Maine companies, such as Sensor Research & Development, are playing such an important role in preparing to meet this need and that this legislation supports funding for this important research program and other very significant defense projects at the University of Maine.
Maine will also contribute to our national defense in the development of advanced composite materials--a field in which Fiber Materials International, of Biddeford, Maine, is a world leader. From structural skin elements of advanced NASA spacecraft to the nose tips and other components for a whole generation of high-tech missile systems, FMI provides this country with the very best in fiber composite materials. Another world leader from Maine is the Pratt & Whitney plant in South Berwick, Maine, which produces engine components for the F-15 Eagle.
I should also note that this bill also aims to help ensure that the Defense Finance and Accounting Service meets its cost-cutting goals in a responsible manner--by requiring a careful study of how best to balance DFAS infrastructure reductions before the Department of Defense undertakes any such cuts. This ought to help Maine, and other states, avoid any unfair burden from cuts in facilities such as the award-winning DFAS center in Limestone, Maine. I commend my colleague, the senior Senator from Maine, for her amendment requiring this study.
As a state with one of the highest per-capita populations of veterans in the country, Maine will also gain from this bill's provision for three demonstration projects designed to help the Department of Defense determine the best way to provide health care to Medicare-eligible veterans over the age of 65. Among the demonstration projects this language would authorize is an effort to extend FEHBP benefits to Medicare-eligible veterans. This provision is itself modeled upon a bill introduced by Senator Bond which I have cosponsored. Through such demonstration projects, we hope to be able to fill a significant gap in the health care our country provides to military retirees.
As a final observation, I would like to point out that this defense authorization bill also includes language I introduced that will release federal interests in the Kennebec Arsenal in Augusta, Maine. The national government actually transferred this property to Maine nearly a century ago, but this conveyance had a number of strings attached--among them the requirement that the land only be used for a mental hospital. Today, these conditions are wholly obsolete, and this historic site is in great need of repair and historical preservation. The language I introduced which has been incorporated into the defense authorization bill will finally release the Kennebec Arsenal, without conditions, to the people of Maine. Augusta, ME, has very exciting plans for renovating this historic structure.
All in all, this defense authorization bill represents far-sighted thinking about the challenges of U.S. defense policy in the years ahead. For this alone, it deserves our support. I am however, particularly pleased that this bill recognizes Maine's role in our defense preparedness and our state's pivotal position on the forefront of defense research and development, and that it builds upon them in order to ensure our security in the 21st Century. Mr. President, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation, and I, again, salute the leaders of the Armed Services Committee for their impressive efforts.
Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.
Mr. BROWNBACK addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.
Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I rise to speak on behalf of the Byrd amendment and speak in favor of that amendment. I will not take very long, but I do want to draw some points of attention to my colleagues.
This amendment is about separate barracks and separate training. We had a thorough debate on this yesterday, so I don't need to speak for a long period of time. This amendment, in my estimation, is a very sensible step in restoring privacy and dignity to the military basic training experience.
The amendment codifies--I want to make this point very clear to my colleagues--this amendment, actually more than the one I put forward yesterday, this amendment codifies the Kassebaum-Baker recommendation, a unanimous commission, a bipartisan recommendation of separate-gender barracks facilities, and this goes on to say also during basic training separate-gender training.
This is also what has passed the House. So if my colleagues ask the question, Is this moving too far forward? I want to point a couple things out to them. This is the unanimous recommendation of the Kassebaum-Baker commission. This is the recommendation. This is what has passed the House of Representatives. This is what the Marines currently do, and it is what most of the branches, up until this decade, did as well.
But the sole point I actually want to make to my colleagues is this. We have had a good airing of this. When you come down to vote on this bill, will you please think of your daughters and your sons and sending them to basic training? I just ask and beg of you, please just think about your 18-year-old children.
And when you send them off to basic training--would you ask yourself, as you vote: Do I want to send my young daughter--in my case, Abby and Liz--do I want to send my 18-year-old daughter to basic training--I want them to serve their country; I really do want them to serve their country--but do I want to send them to basic training, 18 years old, and be able to have a male drill sergeant come in and out at any time of the day or night, such as in the cases that have taken place and take place?
Do I want to have them in the same barracks facility as other 18-year-old men, who, at the end of the day, may be looking for other things to do? Is that where I want to put Abby and Elizabeth? Is that where you want to put your daughters, your children?
This is not a wild idea or notion that Senator Byrd has put forward. It is common sense. It is the thing we ought to do. And so when the Senators cast their votes tonight, I hope when they write down that vote, they will think about their daughters, their granddaughters, their sons, their grandsons, and America, and ask, What is really best here?
Let us not hide behind another commission. A lot of people just want to do that--`Let's have another commission'--and we will do a commission until it reports out the way some people want. Let us just do what we know is right, what we have been doing with the Kassebaum-Baker commission reports, what has already passed, and let us pass the Byrd amendment.
With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.
Mr. ABRAHAM addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
Mr. ABRAHAM. Could I inquire of the Chair as to what the pending business is?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The pending question is the amendment of the Senator from Wisconsin.
Mr. ABRAHAM. Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to speak briefly. I am not sure if we had an official time agreement on this amendment.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. There is no official time agreement.
Mr. ABRAHAM. I have some brief remarks I have to add to those by the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. I may have additional comments later, but I think this will be all that I have to add.
Mr. President, I rise today with the Department of Defense, the U.S. Strategic Command, the United States Navy, the Commander of the Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force, the Wisconsin State Conference of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Wisconsin and Michigan District of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the Upper Peninsula Building and Construction Trades Council, in opposing the amendment offered by my friend from Wisconsin, Mr. Feingold.
Because our time is limited, I will get right to the point. The program which is defined in this amendment as the ELF program is of critical importance to the United States military. It has been for many years, and continues to be today, even in this post-cold-war environment. No other system can replace it, and if we eliminate it, our submarines will be forced to operate at lower speeds, shallower depths, less maneuverability, and will therefore be more vulnerable to detection and attack from hostile forces.
Last year, the Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, General Habiger, told the Senate Armed Services Committee:
As the only system capable of communicating with submarines operating deep beneath the ocean surface, ELF is key to enhancing the security and flexibility of that submarine force. Without ELF, submarines must communicate at shallow depth and slow speed with increased vulnerability to detection and decreased operation flexibility. The capability to operate at depth and speed is even more important in today's post Cold War environment. . . . From a security standpoint, ELF is critical to maintaining our hedge against current and future ASW [anti-submarine warfare] threats.
In fact, Mr. President, the Department of Defense recently wrote the Senate Armed Services Committee and stated that maintaining our deterrence and commitments under current arms control agreements and unilateral U.S. initiatives require the continued operation of ELF. The United States Navy is planning additional upgrades to this system because new command and control procedures will place an even greater reliance on ELF. Similar statements of support have been made by the previous and prospective Commanders of the U.S. Strategic Command, Admiral Chiles and Admiral Mies. I ask unanimous consent, Mr. President, that the letters from the Department of Defense, and both Admirals be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record as follows:
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE,
Washington, DC, May 7, 1997.
Hon. Strom Thurmond,
Chairman, Committee on Armed Services,
Dear Mr. Chairman: This is in response to your request for the views of the Department of Defense on S. 59, 105th Congress, a bill `To Terminate the Extremely Low Frequency Communication System of the Navy.'
The Department of Defense opposes enactment of S. 59.
The Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) Communication System is a unique and highly effective means of one-way communication from U.S. based operational commanders to ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and selected fast attack submarines (SSNs) at operational depths and speeds. In fact, it is the only system capable of communicating with submarines operating deep beneath the ocean surface. This is critical if both SSBNs and SSNs are to utilize their full range of tactical capabilities. While other communication systems require submarines to deploy an antenna at or near the surface, the ELF system allows communication further from the surface thereby increasing operational flexibility and maximizing the stealth inherent in our nuclear submarines. Two ELF transmission sites are required to maintain worldwide communications coverage.
As a consequence of arms control agreements and unilateral U.S. initiatives, we have reduced the number of alert strategic weapons and forces. Accordingly, our strategic deterrent posture relies increasingly on flexible, responsive, highly survivable submarine forces. The ELF provides an important operational capability for SSBNs and SSNs. This legislation seeks to terminate this important program. Without ELF, submarines must communicate at shallow depths with increased vulnerability to detection and decreased operational flexibility. ELF enables a broader range of nuclear weapon de-posturing possibilities that can be implemented if required. Termination of ELF would seriously degrade submarine operations, by reducing responsiveness, and potentially survivability, of submarines because they would need to resort to less survivable communication postures.
The Department of Defense, Joint Staff, the Department of the Navy, and U.S. Strategic Command all agree on the necessity of maintaining the ELF system. In fact, the Department's recently completed comprehensive review of the Nuclear Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence System, conducted in support of the Department's Nuclear Posture Review, strongly supported the continued operation of the ELF system.
Fiscal constraints have mandated a reduction in the fixed submarine broadcast system. As the world coverage and redundancy of our communication networks are reduced, the ELF system ensures SSBNs can operate in all patrol areas and meet stringent connectivity requirements. The ELF system supports the rapid repositioning of SSBNs for contingency target coverage while maintaining continuous communications from the National Command Authority. Likewise, the ELF system provides immediate, dependable communications with SSNs operating in a multitude of theaters, communication which is essential to successful accomplishment of their assigned missions. ELF is the only communications system available that ensures the maintenance of these critical communication links. Costly new research and development would have to be done to provide another communication path to our submarines to ensure our ability to communicate at speed and depth.
The Office of Management and Budget advises that, from the standpoint of the Administration's program, there is no objection to the presentation of this report for the consideration of the committee.
Judith A. Miller.
U.S. Strategic Command,
Washington, DC, September 5, 1995.
Hon. C.W. Bill Young,
Chairman, House Appropriations Subcommittee on National Security, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: Among the potential FY96 House Appropriation Bill Floor Amendments is one which prohibits Navy Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) Communications funding. Project ELF is essential for the effective use of the most critical leg of the strategic TRIAD. Therefore, I will reiterate some of the important facts surrounding ELF.
Post-Cold War reposturing and arms control agreements have resulted in placing more emphasis on submarines as the major leg of our nuclear deterrence. The ELF Communications System is the only system capable of communicating with submarines operating deep beneath the ocean's surface. This allows ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and attack submarines (SSNs), as well, to utilize their full range of tactical capabilities and maximize inherent stealth, thereby providing the operational flexibility needed to support command and control requirements stemming from force structure and mission changes.
ELF is also the only communications system that supports rapid reposturing of SSBNs for contingency target coverage by allowing continuous connectivity with the submarine while it transits at design depth and speed. ELF provides the SSBN the ability to train and exercise within the full envelop of its capabilities and maintain the ability to rapidly respond to National Command Authorities' orders. Both ELF communications sites, operating simultaneously, are needed to meet our worldwide requirements. Dismantling this critical system would unacceptably impact the survivability and flexibility of our submarine forces.
Your continued support is greatly appreciated.
H.G. Chiles, Jr.,
Admiral, U.S. Navy, Commander in Chief.
U.S. Atlantic Fleet,
Norfolk, VA, June 15, 1998.
Hon. Strom Thurmond,
Chairman, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee. It is an honor to have been nominated by the President to be Commander in Chief, U.S. Strategic Command. I respectfully submit the enclosed responses to your questions on the important defense policy and management issues and look forward to working with you and the Committee.
Richard W. Mies,
Vice Admiral, USN.
Question 54: Do you support continued operation of the Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) communications system?
Answer. Yes, I support continued operation of the ELF communications system. A strong command and control capability remains of utmost importance to the success of our Nation's strategic deterrence. Post-Cold War strategic force reductions have resulted in more emphasis on submarines in our strategic triad. ELF is a unique and highly effective system capable of one-way communications with strategic submarines at secure operating depths and speeds. While other communications systems require a submarine to deploy an antenna at or near the ocean surface, the ELF system allows communication further from the surface thereby increasing operational flexibility and maximizing the stealth inherent in our strategic submarines. Both ELF transmissions sites, operating simultaneously, are required to meet our worldwide requirements.
Question 55: Do you believe that this system is cost effective and necessary, especially in light of other U.S. decisions to downgrade U.S. strategic command and control?
Answer. The ELF system is very cost effective. A nuclear command and control review conducted in support of the Nuclear Posture Review strongly supported the continued operation of the ELF system. Loss of this critical system would adversely impact the survivability and flexibility of our strategic submarine force.
Mr. ABRAHAM. The second argument made by the opponents of ELF are that significant cost savings can be achieved by closing ELF. However, if the operational requirement is still valid, as we have shown that it is, and if that requirement can only be met with this facility, then an investment of about $15 million per year is, in my opinion, a very worthwhile expenditure to provide the greatest operational capability for U.S. submarine forces. Furthermore, because of the requirement delineated by the Department of Defense to keep this capability for our arms control deterrence requirements, the Department states they will have to spend additional money on research for a replacement system which has not yet been developed, additional money which would swallow up any of the costs savings claimed by the opponents of ELF.
Finally, Mr. President, the opponents of ELF claim the facility is an environmental hazard. As for the environmental impact, the Navy has initiated and funded an ongoing environmental monitoring program managed by an independent organization, I.I.T. Research Institute of Chicago, Illinois and R.D.L. Corporation. The combined results of these studies have found no adverse effect on animals, plants, or micro-organisms.
And, Mr. President, this study was exhaustive. It studied such diverse ecological issues as the degradation of bogs in Wisconsin, tree physiology and growth, earthworm, soil amoebas and slime molds, bees, birds, chipmunks--everything. It found no adverse effect on the environment because of the ELF transmissions. This study was further reviewed by the National Research Council in 1997, and they agreed with the Navy's findings of no adverse ecological effects.
Furthermore, in 1996, the National Academy of Science, in an exhaustive study of the effects of electromagnetic radiation on humans, determined that
After examining more than 500 studies spanning 17 years of research, the committee said there is no conclusive evidence that electromagnetic fields play a role in the development of cancer, reproductive and developmental abnormalities, or learning and behavioral problems.
That, Mr. President, is pretty conclusive evidence, I think, of ELF's safety.
So, Mr. President, we have a choice. We can choose to squarely analyze the scientific research at hand, listen to the operational requirements of military Commanders, and provide our submarines, and the men and women that sail them, the best possible chance of achieving their mission, let alone survival. Or we can choose to force our sailors to operate without the equipment they need, placing them in greater danger. For just under $150,000 per submarine, the equivalent of the personnel costs of seven junior sailors, we can provide every submarine the capability of running deep, fast, silent and deadly instead of shallow, slow, noisy and vulnerable.
Mr. President, please let me close with a quote from Joe Stranger, President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Wisconsin State Conference.
The United States still has enemies that relish our demise and this [ELF] system is a decided advantage to any submarine operation in protection of our way of life. This system does not only protect this Country, but also protects those valuable lives of American servicemen and women who operate those submarines in the line of duty. I do not believe the minimal savings is worth the risk.
Mr. President, I could not say this any better. I therefore urge my colleagues to reject this amendment and protect our sailors.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
Mr. FEINGOLD addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wisconsin.
Mr. FEINGOLD. It is a great joy working with the distinguished Senator from Michigan, and I regret having to be on the opposite side of this amendment, especially since it is our two States that are most affected by this project--ELF.
But this truly is a project in search of a justification. It had a purpose in the cold war. But when the Senator from Michigan lays out the purpose of the program, what isn't clearly identified is all this Project ELF does. He talks about the slower speeds and the fact that the submarines have to come up. But that is premised, somehow, on the notion that the submarines are being told something of any detail while they are submerged. They are not. Project ELF can only tell the submarine: `Come up.' It is sort of like: `ET, phone home.' That is all you get. `Come up and get your messages. Check your answering machine.'
While the submarine is submerged, it cannot learn what the threat is, it cannot get instructions, it cannot get anything. All it gets is a message that it has to come up anyway, that it has to slow down anyway.
For 5 years I have been searching for a justification for something that is nothing more than really a very primitive beeper system that you can't communicate back with and you can't get any real information from. The only justification for it was the fact that we had a threat from Soviet nuclear submarines. That threat is no longer there, and there is no two-way communication that comes from this.
Again, this is one of the sad moments where a program comes into existence and somehow, because it once was supposed to have a justification under another set of facts, under another series of threats, it just keeps going because a couple of people in the military say it still might be handy.
The problem with that is, this is real money. It is $12 million a year that could be spent on a number of things. Under my amendment, we would spend it on our true national security. This is about priorities within our national security. I believe an archaic ELF system is less important than putting $12 million a year into the National Guard, which is underfunded under this bill. The needs of the National Guard armories, the inventory, the training, are underfunded under the Department of Defense authorization bill.
All I am trying to do here is to balance this, to say let's get rid of something that really isn't necessary, that really is primitive, that doesn't provide the sophisticated kind of communication that is claimed, and instead provide help to our hard-working men and women who are part of our National Guard and who now comprise a very significant part of what our Army does in this country.
This is an unusual situation. Both Senators from our State and the State where this exists are saying, `Please get rid of this program.' How often do Senators from a State go to the base closure system and say please take something out of our State? I assure Members, neither Senator Kohl nor I would propose such a thing if we were not convinced after years of efforts that this program did not have a national security implication, that it was outdated, it was a waste of money, and the money was better used helping our National Guard.
I ask our colleagues to support this amendment.
I yield the remainder of our time.
Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Feingold amendment be set aside pending the disposition of the unanimous consent agreement which is going to be propounded shortly.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.....................
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will proceed to the Feingold amendment with 2 minutes, equally divided.
Who yields time?
Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum because I note the absence of Senator Feingold.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. The Senator from Virginia is recognized.
Mr. WARNER. We can now proceed pursuant to the unanimous consent request to the first rollcall vote.
Mr. LEVIN. To clarify the Record, the unanimous consent agreement did provide for time on the Feingold amendment, and that time was used with debate.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator is correct.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to the Feingold amendment No. 2808. The yeas and nays have been ordered. The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk called the roll.
Mr. NICKLES. I announce that the Senator from Delaware (Mr. Roth) is necessarily absent.
I further announce that the Senator from Arkansas (Mr. Hutchinson) is absent due to a death in family.
I also announce that the Senator from Pennsylvania (Mr. Specter) is absent because of illness.
Mr. FORD. I announce that the Senator from Hawaii (Mr. Akaka), the Senator from Montana (Mr. Baucus), the Senator from Ohio (Mr. Glenn), and the Senator from West Virginia (Mr. Rockefeller) are necessarily absent.
I also announce that the Senator from Oregon (Mr. Wyden) is absent due to a family illness.
I further announce that, if present and voting the Senator from Oregon (Mr. Wyden) would vote `aye.'
The result was announced--yeas 20, nays 72, as follows:
The amendment (No. 2808) was rejected.
Mr. THURMOND. I move to reconsider the vote.
Mr. WARNER. I move to lay it on the table.
The motion to lay on the table was agreed to.