Good morning, and welcome. To reintroduce myself, I’m Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, and I represent Florida’s 7th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives.
I want to begin by thanking Admiral Robb with the National Training and Simulation Association and the National Defense Industrial Association for hosting us today here at I/ITSEC.
This is my second consecutive year attending this conference, and I continue to marvel at how impressive it is. It showcases the most cutting-edge, most useful, and most exciting work that the modeling, simulation, and training community has to offer. It also provides a forum for leaders in this important and growing field, whether they work in the public sector or the private sector, to exchange ideas and make personal connections.
With your indulgence, I’d like to introduce my three distinguished congressional colleagues who have joined us this morning. It’s a great group.
First up is Congressman Bobby Scott from Virginia, whose district includes Hampton, Newport News, and Norfolk. My district and Congressman Scott’s district are each home to thriving MS&T communities and the two of us serve as co-chairs of the Modeling and Simulation Caucus in the U.S. House. Our role as Caucus co-chairs is to educate lawmakers and their senior staff on the benefits of MS&T, so they are as excited about it as we are.
Congressman Scott will be the chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee in the coming Congress, and he really understands how modeling and simulation technology can be used to tackle both defense and domestic challenges—from increasing military readiness; to enhancing training for teachers, health care professionals, and first responders; to helping communities prepare for and respond to natural disasters and other high-consequence events. Properly utilized, modeling and simulation technologies can improve outcomes at relatively lower cost and lower risk—and nobody in Congress comprehends that better than Congressman Scott.
Next up is my fellow Floridian, Congressman John Rutherford, who represents the Jacksonville area and is also a member of the Modeling and Simulation Caucus. Prior to his election to the U.S. House, Congressman Rutherford was the sheriff of Duval County—so everybody needs to be on their best behavior today. Congressman Rutherford serves on the powerful Appropriations Committee and on the Judiciary Committee. Welcome to Orlando, John.
Last, but certainly not least, is Congressman Jack Bergman of Michigan, a retired three-star general in the Marine Corps and the highest-ranking military officer ever to serve in Congress. Notably, Congressman Bergman joined me in Orlando earlier this year as part of a congressional exchange program that enables lawmakers from opposing parties to visit each other’s district in order to build bipartisan bridges in Congress. This is a worthy goal in these highly-polarized times.
I should point out that, based on feedback we received during his visit, Congressman Bergman and I went back to Washington and introduced legislation to improve the Department of Defense program that helps departing servicemembers transition to the civilian world, so they are better prepared to go to college, learn a trade, or start a business. I am proud to say that we managed to enact the core of this bill into law, as part of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which is emblematic of what can be achieved through bipartisan cooperation. I know this is an issue that Congressman Rutherford cares deeply about as well, and that he scored his own legislative win in this area.
So, thanks to all three of my colleagues for taking the time from their busy schedules to be here. I’m really grateful and I hope you have a wonderful time.
Moving on, I want to take this opportunity to thank every member of Team Orlando for the important work you do and the valuable contribution you make to our community here in central Florida. I want to give a special shout-out to two people. The first is Major General Maria Gervais, who leads the Army’s Synthetic Training Environment Cross-Functional Team. I’m so pleased that the Army selected Orlando as its new headquarters for this effort, which is part of the recently-established Army Futures Command.
The second person I want to thank is General Tom Baptiste, who serves as the CEO of the National Center for Simulation and who leads the MS&T Advisory Board that provides guidance to my congressional office. Tom has been a really good partner.
Now that are wrapping up the 115th Congress, and preparing for the 116th Congress, with control of the House set to change hands from Republicans to Democrats, I wanted to provide a very brief legislative update.
2018 marks the 57th consecutive year in which the NDAA was signed into law with broad bipartisan support. Even more notably, we did our work on time. Both the NDAA and the Defense Appropriations bill for 2019 were signed by the President before the start of the fiscal year. Imagine that! It’s my hope that this will become the new normal. The work we do in Congress impacts our national defense in critical ways, and so it’s imperative that we avoid dangerous and costly continuing resolutions and provide our servicemembers, DOD civilians and DOD contractors with the authorities and resources they need to accomplish their missions—and that we do this in a timely fashion.
As a point of personal privilege, I’m also proud to have led the successful effort to include several provisions in the 2019 NDAA that will benefit the MS&T community and that build on the work we did in connection with the 2018 NDAA.
For example, we secured a provision in the NDAA that expressly recognizes that modeling and simulation is critical to national security. The provision encourages military leaders to maximize the use of modeling and simulation and requires a report from the Department of Defense on the benefits of this technology.
We also fully funded the Persistent Cyber Training Environment and the National Cyber Range in Orlando, which train U.S. military personnel to conduct cyber operations and protect national security assets from cyberattack.
Finally, we included a provision to support common data environments, which should reduce software duplication and strengthen modeling and simulation capabilities through better data collection, analysis, and sharing.
It is my hope and expectation that the congressional support for modeling and simulation reflected in both this year’s NDAA and last year’s NDAA will further boost the remarkable growth the MS&T community is experiencing thanks to your hard work.
In closing, let me offer this final thought. As noted, control of the House is about to transition from Republicans to Democrats. Meanwhile, in the Senate, Republicans have expanded their margin. And the White House, of course, remains in Republican hands.
Divided government poses challenges, but it also provides opportunities for those members of Congress who are collegial, who have respect for those on the other side of the aisle, who are willing to work with anyone to help their constituents and their country, and who are more interested in getting things done than they are in grandstanding for their respective political bases. Now, more than ever, bipartisanship is the best path forward.
Thank you all, and I look forward to answering your questions.