What We Do

Military Voting Rights

Military Voting Rights and Military Absentee Voting are one of the very first programs that the National Defense Committee [NDC] became involved with in the late 20th Century.  Our Program Director, CAPTAIN [Ret.] Sam Wright, JAGC, USN is THE Premier Leader in this field and has been for 30 years.  And our Senior Fellows, Bob Carey and Bryan O’Leary, are both Former Staff Members in the U. S. Senate and know this subject backwards and forwards.  NDC took on this effort because all of us involved had experienced problems in the military voting systems over the years and during our uniformed service, and yet year after year and decade after decade, it just doesn’t seem to get fixed by anyone in authority to do so.  Indeed, our greatest frustration occurs each time any of us reads President Harry S. Truman’s message to the Congress re: Military Voting Rights, in the early 1950’s, based in large part on tremendous problems encountered with military voting during World War II and the Korean War—– and seeing that MUCH of what President Truman told the Congress back a half century and more ago remains unresolved and unaddressed and unrepaired to this day.  So for that and a hundred and one other reasons, the primary reason being that “it’s the right thing to do”, NDC took on this program as one of our most important efforts, and it remains so to this day.  We continue to spend time on these issues every day of the year, and we are regularly called upon to appear on TV and Radio Talk Shows as “subject matter experts”, to testify before the U. S. Congress, and to write articles and OP-ED’s that outline, clearly and easily understood, the continuing problems with ensuring our military men and women are absolutely guaranteed the opportunity to vote AND to be ensured that their vote WILL BE COUNTED.  We invite any and all who have an interest in these matters to join us in this important mission.   Please contact us via e-mail at: Chairman@NationalDefenseCommittee.org

Military Re-employment Rights

One of the saddest events that can happen with regard to military service is when an American military man or woman is called to battle and leaves home and hearth to go fight for their country, only to return home and find that the civilian job they left has been filled by someone else, and is no longer available to them.  Or that others subordinate to them when they left have been promoted over them while they were gone fighting the war.  And worse yet, is when the employer taking these disgusting actions is an agency or department of the United States Government.  Don’t believe us???   We hear all too often of this happening to employees of the U. S. Government.  Now in this case, we do give credit where credit is due, and in our opinion, the U. S. Congress has given this matter it’s attention and passed a law known as USERRA in order to establish the re-employment rights of our military men and women and then protect those rights while they are off fighting for our nation and upon their return.  Here again, our Director of this program is one of THE MOST WELL KNOW EXPERTS in USERRA law, Navy CAPT [Ret.] Sam Wright, JAG Corps, USN, who in fact helped to write some of the early veterans re-employment legislation when he was an employee at the U. S. Department of Labor.  CAPTAIN Wright heads up all our efforts in this area, and we encourage anyone who has interest in working with us on these issues, to contact him at SamWright50@yahoo.com

Military Recruiters and Unobstructed Access to College Campuses

Also known under the title of  “the Solomon Amendment”, named after Congressman Solomon who championed the legislation to prevent this from happening.  What the legislation says, summarized in plain English, is that colleges and universities that accept federal grant funding and federal research funding are not allowed to obstruct or prevent access by military recruiters coming to their campuses to speak to students who have an interest in learning about military service.  Unfortunately, as all too often happens, what the law says, and what happens on college and university campuses where some feel the law does not have to be adhered to, is that there are still colleges and universities who ARE provided with federal grants and research funds who STILL illegally prevent military recruiters from unobstructed access to their campus.  And the fact that there exist circumstances where these laws are not being followed is, in part, why NDC is involved in these matters and works to promote enforcement of these laws by the U. S. Department of Justice.  We are fortunate to have as our Director of this program, Navy Commander [Ret.] Wayne L. Johnson, who worked on these matters during his active duty days in the Navy’s JAG Corps, and has continued his involvement since retirement through NDC and our efforts to ensure these laws are enforced.  We welcome any and all who wish to work with us on these issues.  You may contact Commander Johnson at wayneljohnson@hotmail.com

Recognition of Supporters

NDC considers each of the areas we focus upon to be of importance and significance to our men and women in the armed services of the USA.  Ours is an all-volunteer organization and everyone that gives of their time and treasure to work with us does so without compensation.  We do so as our gift to the men and women in uniform, because they deserve our support and do NOT deserve to have their rights violated as they give their service to our nation, and because IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.  In addition to our work, we seek to ensure that those who work with us in support of these mission areas are recognized for that support and for their efforts.  We regularly set time aside to ensure that Letters of Recognition and Recommendations for Awards are submitted to ensure that those who so unselfishly give of themselves in these efforts are truly honored for their work.  If anyone reading these words would like to join us in these efforts and assist us in ensuring that proper recognition is rendered to those who give of themselves and their time and their treasure in support of the U. S. Armed Forces, we welcome your involvement.  Please contact us at Chairman@NationalDefenseCommittee.org so that you can join our “NDC Team”.

21st Century Military Ships

The RIGHT Ship For The 21st Century. Retired Marine COL Jim Zumwalt, Admiral Zumwalt’s son, does a GREAT JOB of making that case. His OP-ED from July 2008 in the Washington Times Newspaper says it all.

“When ‘good enough’ is the foe of ‘better'”
James G. Zumwalt

July 27, 2008

Cold War Soviet Fleet Adm. S.G. Gorshkov was fond of the quote, ”
‘Better’ is the enemy of ‘good enough.’ ” While embracing evolutionary improvements to existing naval assets – ensuring they were good enough to perform intended missions – Adm. Gorshkov committed billions of rubles to revolutionary naval advancements and game-changing technological “firsts.”

Today, an increasingly strident debate focuses on our Navy’s future – should it take an evolutionary “good enough” approach or a revolutionary “better” one. The choice is stark: move forward with the revolutionary new-design Zumwalt-class DDG-1000 multimission warships or continue the evolution of legacy Arleigh Burke DDG-51 destroyers designed in the early 1980s. Congress is divided: The Senate clearly looks to “better,” strongly supporting the president’s program for seven DDG-1000s, while some House members seek “good enough” – temporarily staying the DDG-1000 program, or killing it completely, and continuing to build in-service DDG-51s before moving to another new surface warship concept. The House Armed Services Committee holds hearings July 31 to debate the issue.

The Navy’s requirement is 62 Burkes (the last appropriated in fiscal
2005) to complement 22 Ticonderoga-class cruisers. With a 35-year service life, the 62nd Burke would retire around 2050. Periodic modernization will keep DDG-51s “good enough” for general-purpose roles, missions and planned tasks, including important ballistic-missile defense needs.

But an evolutionary approach continuing to churn out DDG-51s ignores20the reality that scant “real estate” exists in the latest Burke design for technologies to meet=2 0daunting littoral threats. It also ignores a decade of intense and costly research, development and engineering now poised to deliver a truly revolutionary warship – one Adm. Gorshkov would envy – to meet critical requirements.

The DDG-1000 design represents the greatest technological advancement the Navy has ever made in a single ship platform. This multimission warship pushes operational envelopes and capabilities far beyond today’s U.S. and foreign-navy ships. As the first “Post-Cold War” and “Post-Sept. 11″ U.S. surface warship, DDG-1000 is designed for what Defense Secretary Robert Gates calls “today’s wars,” while delivering game-changing multimission capabilities for other 21st-century needs.
When the lead ship, USS Zumwalt, named for Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, delivers in 2013, it will be the world’s most capable, mission-flexible and agile surface combatant.

The Zumwalts will not replace in-service warships. They satisfy critical littoral and expeditionary warfare requirements the Navy and Marine Corps determined cannot be met with in-service assets – validated by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC). Advanced radar and stealth technology enables DDG-1000 to engage air threats well beyond the threat’s ability to detect and attack DDG-1000 – something no existing surface warship can claim. Its highly survivable missile-launch system accommodates long-range attack and anti-air missiles as well as future multiwarfare weapons. Its two 155- mm guns each have 600 rounds of precision-guided projectiles capable of pinpoint-accuracy at ranges greater than 70 nautical miles and high rates of fire. The Integrated Undersea Warfare System enables it to operate safely in difficult littoral combat environments, while its open-architecture computing systems facilitate cost-effective future warfighting capabilities inserted into a “plug-and-fight” framework throughout the class’ lifetime.

Design maturity and cost are the heart of today’s debates.
Technological and financial risks in building DDG-1000 have been minimized by the Navy’s “build a little … test a little … build a little more” philosophy and an engineering development model risk-mitigation approach for which the service invested $2.9 billion and three years to execute, with stunning results. Mission systems have met technical and financial objectives, with 94 percent already released to production. Software production has been recognized as “world class.”

Advanced computer-aided design capabilities, coupled with lessons learned from recent U.S. shipbuilding and conversion programs, undergird the Navy’s confidence the Zumwalts can be delivered on time, on budget and ready for duty. The Navy has already “built” DDG-1000 in simulated construction programs thousands of times, ensuring it is right before its keel is laid. In late-2008, more than 80 percent of the lead ship’s detail drawings will be complete – unprecedented in Navy20new-construction warship history.

The Navy continues to mi nimize risk and uncertainty via fixed-price/incentive-based contracts and other design and production innovations. For example, DDG-1000 class is designed for optimum shipyard production, resulting in significant labor-hour and cost reduction. And rather than pursue a “winner-take-all” approach, building all DDG-1000s at a single shipyard, the Navy’s firm-fixed-price option strategy for the remaining five ships to be built at two shipyards will maximize competition, minimize costs and ensure critical elements of the nation’s industrial base are sustained for farther-future needs.

In February, the Navy awarded $1.3 billion shipbuilder contracts to Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works to build two lead ships under the unique acquisition strategy well-supported by Congress.
The approximate delivery cost of each ship is $3.2 billion. And, the Navy is confident each of the remaining five DDG-1000s can be delivered for $2.7 billion.

Critics claim these estimates are wishful thinking, calling for the Navy to “can” DDG-1000 and re-start the DDG-51 production line before moving to the next-generation CG(X) guided-missile cruiser. Various estimates indicate one DDG-51 will cost $2.2 billion; two for $3.5 billion. But, these outside estimates may be understated for failing to consider growing shipyard supplier constraints and diminishing manufacturing sources.

Also, building possibly less-expensive follow-on DDG-51s would sacrifice numerous “game-changing” capabilities, satisfy ing critical operational needs. The Navy does not have a JROC- validated requirement for more than 62 DDG-51s, and there are doubts the Burkes can meet all validated Marine Corps naval fire-support requirements.

These concerns prompted Rep. John Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat and chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, to
proclaim: “We’re not going to start up the DDG-51 line again. Not with my money.”

Congress must make a tough decision: Spend more on the DDG-1000 now, resulting in greatly reduced operating and support costs for its smaller crews in the future, or spend less now on building additional DDG-51s, facing rising operational and support costs later for the much larger crews these ships require. Either way demands a significant financial commitment. But, the multimission DDG-1000 will leave our Navy better prepared to face the myriad of 21st-century technological challenges to its control of the seas.

DDG-1000 is the next-generation’s “better” that augments today’s “good enough.”