I want to start by thanking Chairman Skelton and Ranking Member Hunter for the work they have done, not just on this bill but during the 12 years that I've been in Congress and even before then.
  
Their leadership on this committee I think should be an inspiration to all of us in the way they approach these very important issues. To begin with, they set a tone of bipartisanship. We worked together in an open process that I think gives us the high quality product that we wind up with. And that's not to say that we don't disagree, occasionally along party lines, but we do so in a very open, very honest way, in a way that I think addresses the issues and the way that Congress should perform. I want to thank Chairman Skelton and Ranking Member Hunter for his time as ranking member and time as chairman as well for doing that.
 
I think this year's bill is a particularly good product and representative of that fine work. We have heard many different pieces of it already. I just want to highlight two in the general bill.
  
First of all, the $2 billion in additional money that we put in to deal with readiness, a major challenge right now for our Armed Forces, particularly the Army and the Marines. Our forces are really under a great deal of strain because of their deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maintaining readiness has been a major challenge and concern, and this bill puts that concern up front and funds it in a way that will help us begin to deal with the problem.
  
Also, equally as importantly, it prioritizes our troops by giving them a 3.9 percent pay raise, to recognize the hard work and sacrifice that they perform for us and support them in every way that we possibly can.

With that, I want to highlight some of what we've done on our subcommittee, the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats, and Capabilities. We have four main areas that we focus on.

The first of those is the Special Operations Command over which we have jurisdiction, and I want to pause at this moment in the general remarks and thank Representative Saxton who, though he is not the ranking member on this committee now, serves on the committee and was the first Chair. As Representative Hunter has pointed out, the special operations forces were a particular concern of Representative Saxton. He has a done a great deal in our efforts to expand that force, meet their needs and expand their capabilities, and more than that, he has been a great Member, not just of this subcommittee but of this committee for his career in Congress. He will be missed, and I very much appreciated working with him.

What we have done primarily for special operations forces in the bill this year is fund as many of their unfunded requirements as we possibly can. They have been at an incredibly rapid tempo in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere. Continuing to fund their needs is the top priority of our subcommittee.

The other area that we focus on is irregular warfare, and there are a number of different pieces to this. But I think it's a critical part of our defense bill because it is emerging as one of the most continuous pieces of the fight, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism efforts, things that were not prior to 9/11 part of our lexicon to the degree that they are now.

We take steps to make that a higher priority by raising it to the Assistant Secretary level at the DOD and also by helping to fund human terrain teams. Our subcommittee received excellent testimony about what these human terrain teams are doing to go in and understand the culture in Afghanistan, in Iraq. We actually employ anthropologists and others who are experts in culture so that our forces can know who they're dealing with when they go in. This is a critical element of what we're working on.

We also, thirdly, focus on harnessing technological innovation. We fund it, to begin with, $1.69 billion worth of R&D for science and technology, and we also focus on harnessing new technologies as quickly as possible by developing a clearinghouse for that. The procurement process in the DOD can be a lengthy process at times. We want to get these technologies out in the field as quickly as possible when they are most useful.

We're also asking the Department to focus on the recruitment of IT professionals, the people with the brains to help us with cyber security and elsewhere. As you might guess, the DOD does not pay as much as these people might be able to earn in the private sector. So we have to aggressively go out there and recruit folks to make sure that we have the top IT professionals within the DOD. Our bill focuses on that as well. 

Lastly, we focus on improving DOD's homeland defense capabilities, a role of our subcommittee, by funding the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the chemical/biological defense programs and by increasing their funds and making sure that they have what is necessary to protect us here in the homeland, within the DOD, working in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security.

Again, I want to thank Representative Saxton for his work and also Representative Thornberry, who is the ranking member on this subcommittee. He has been great to work with, very smart, very talented, works in a bipartisan way. All of the issues that I have just listed have been made possible in large part because of his input. I appreciate working with him as well.

Again, I want to thank the chairman and Ranking Member Hunter for the way they run this committee. It makes me proud to be in Congress every year I have the opportunity to serve with them.