Johnny Isakson United States Senator

Defense and National Security

Defense and National Security

I am proud to support Georgia’s exemplary military installations, which play a critical role in keeping America safe at home and abroad. The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, changed our nation forever, and I believe America must remain vigilant and prepared to defend itself against a wide variety of threats. It is important now more than ever that we protect our homeland by continuing our efforts against terrorism and fighting for freedom around the world.

War on Terror

During my journeys to Iraq and Afghanistan, I have seen the progress our troops have made firsthand. I have spoken with our men and women on the ground, because I believe in verifying the facts that are reported to Congress.

I was delighted to support the confirmation of Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, and I believe President Obama has made a wise decision asking Secretary Gates to become part of the new administration. Secretary Gates has worked to provide a secure environment for the Iraqi government, and there is no doubt that Iraq is a safer nation since the troop surge in Iraq. The Iraqis have capitalized on the security gains to make political progress by establishing the Iraqi Council of Representatives as well as adopting a 2008 budget, De-Baathification Reform and other legislation that balances the power between the people and their government.

The Iraqi government must commit to full and fair implementation of the laws they have adopted, and as a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, I will continue to work with my colleagues to urge the Iraqi government to work quickly to establish lasting stability in Iraq. I remain hopeful that future withdrawals of our troops do not negatively affect our success on the ground there.

Our Troops and Equipment

As the front in the War on Terror shifts back to Afghanistan, it is essential that the men and women fighting for our nation overseas are supported by our government not only in words, but in getting the resources and equipment they deserve and need to safely accomplish their mission.

One of my priorities has been supporting a multiyear contract for production of the F-22A, which is built at the Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta, Ga. The F-22A is the most sophisticated fighter jet in the world and provides a priceless service to our military. Its continued production is essential to our national security while providing significant jobs for Georgia. I have also fought for the C-130J and C-17 programs, which are our nation’s key cargo aircraft, in order to maintain the same levels of equipment delivery that our troops need and have come to expect.

Throughout my service in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate, I have supported pay raises for our troops, bonuses to bolster retention and increases in basic housing allowances. Like so many in our Guard and Reserves, one of my own Senate staff members has been called up to serve. I support him and all Guardsmen and Reservists as we rely upon them more often by providing them with the benefits and quality of life that they and their families deserve. I am proud to co-sponsor a bill to adjust the retirement eligibility for members of the National Guard and Reserves to improve their benefits based upon the increased role they are playing in our nation’s front lines of defense.

Georgia’s Military Role

Georgia has continually played a strong role in our nation’s security. Troops from military installations across the state are serving in the War on Terror. Many local communities depend on the continued growth of these bases and the men and women employed there. Our state also has seen many of its citizens in the National Guard and Reserves deployed in recent years, and additional jobs are kept and created through military contractors and those who build our weapons, safety systems and other equipment for our troops during their service on the battlefield as well as during their training.

As Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Africa, I am currently working with Senator Chambliss and state officials to ensure the U.S. Department of Defense seriously considers the state of Georgia as the location for the recently activated United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) Headquarters. Georgia provides a compelling location for the AFRICOM facility. Each location that is under consideration is in close proximity to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Being the world’s busiest airport there is frequent and direct access to the African continent. With one of the nation’s highest concentrations of Fortune 500 companies and Non-Governmental Organizations, coupled with a very low cost of doing business, the greater Atlanta area is uniquely qualified to accommodate additional consulates and businesses that may be necessary if such an important command is established.

New START Treaty

When the START treaty of 1991 expired on December 5, 2009, the United States lost all access to the Russian nuclear arsenal and therefore lost access to all human intelligence on the ground about their arsenal. As we learned in the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979 and the tragedy of 9/11, whenever we lack human intelligence on the ground we become more vulnerable as a nation.

The START Treaty was initiated by Ronald Reagan (and then signed by President George H.W. Bush) because Reagan believed in peace through strength and “trust but verify.” Our biggest threat of a nuclear strike against America is a terrorist dirty bomb or a rogue nation strike from Iran or North Korea. The United States and Russia control over 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads, and the New START Treaty inspection and verification system ensures that the United States can better prevent a loose nuclear warhead from getting into the wrong hands. Richard Burd, who led U.S. negotiations under both Reagan and Bush, testified of the absolute necessity to continue physical inspections and access to Russia’s arsenal. In addition, every Secretary of State since Henry Kissinger has endorsed the New START treaty.

The New START Treaty also ensures the United States can and will develop our robust missile defense system to protect our nation. Equally important, we have committed the funds necessary to both maintain and modernize our nuclear arsenal. The ratification approved in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was the Republican substitute to the Democratic-proposed ratification, and it was authored by Republican Senator Dick Lugar and amended by Republican Senator Jim DeMint.