Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rob Wittman's Weekly Update

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In my most recent Weekly Update, I talked about the central role that preparation plays in maintaining and advancing our military's readiness, which is a term encompassing the manning, equipping, and training of our combined forces. In my oversight role on the House Armed Services Committee, preparation is no less important. As I work to make sure our troops have what they need to get the job done, it is absolutely critical to have a full and organic understanding of the challenges our servicemen and women face every day, both on and off the battlefield.

The best way to understand a challenge is to experience it first-hand, and recently at Naval Air Warfare Development Center (NAWDC) and TOPGUN Academy in Fallon, Nevada, my colleague, Representative Elise Stefanik (NY-21) and I had the opportunity to get an inside view of some of the difficulties that our Naval Aviators have to overcome as they prepare for combat. NAWDC Commander, Admiral Scott Conn and I discussed the complexities of training Naval Aviators both for the combat conditions they face today and those they'll face in the future. As a backseat-passenger in an FA-18 "F" Super Hornet piloted by one of the First District's own TOPGUN aviators, I actually experienced the g-forces associated with fighter aviation and previewed the tactical training that the Navy aircrew put into practice every single day. I've always been amazed by the professionalism and dedication that it takes for our military men and women to plan and execute even a single mission, and the trip to Fallon only heightened that admiration.

Another essential part of my role on the Armed Services Committee and as Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee is information gathering. To broaden my perspective, I've traveled around the world to see our servicemen and women in action and get their view of our military's overseas operations. At the beginning of July, I led a bipartisan trip to Iraq, where my colleagues and I were briefed by U.S. and foreign military officials about the situation in the Middle East and logistic and cultural barriers to success. There is no doubt that the U.S. can offer significant support through intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance efforts, but ultimately, the solution to the problems we face in the Middle East must be solved by leadership from the Muslim and Arab nations around the world. Fact-finding trips like the one in Iraq help me and the other members of the Armed Services Committee work not only harder but smarter as we seek to find the best way to defend America's interests and defeat terrorism around the world.

Fact-finding trips are often a little closer to home, and as representative of Virginia's First District, I've been blessed to spend a great deal of time at Marine Corps Base Quantico meeting with our Marines and observing training exercises. I've also gotten to know many of our military's heroes through work with the Wounded Warriors Project and other organizations that work to support our First District Veterans. The courage and selflessness that are consistent across every branch of our armed services are incredibly evident in these men and women. This should be a constant reminder that Congress must effectively provide for our servicemen and women at home and abroad.

In every life, there are defining moments that make you stop and take stock. Recently, I had one of those moments as General Joseph F. Dunford, Commandant of the Marine Corps, presented me with the title of Honorary Marine. I am so grateful to the Commandant, the Marine Corps, and every man and woman who has risked it all, in the field and at home, for freedom. I will continue to do all that I can to support our Marines and their families.

The main streets of Virginia's First District are full of ideas to get our economy back on track, and your feedback is critically important to me as I serve you. I can be reached by telephone at (202) 225-4261, through my website (, on Facebook (, and via Twitter (


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