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2 Army veterans take key positions on Senate and House committees

Sunday, March 01, 2015

An Army veteran is the new chairman of the Senate subcommittee overseeing Army procurement issues.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., has been selected to chair the Airland Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The 37-year-old Army combat veteran was elected to a six-year term in November.

The Airland Subcommittee focuses on aviation and land warfare programs that include the active, National Guard and reserve forces.

It is also responsible for most Army weapons programs other than special operations, including research, development and procurement of the weapons.

In a statement, Cotton said the panel "plays a critical role in ensuring our military is the best equipped and trained in the world."

Adding, "As chairman, I will ensure our men and women in uniform – like those in the Arkansas National Guard or those at Little Rock Air Force base – have the tools they need to defend our national interests."

The youngest person currently serving in the Senate, Cotton is a combat veteran who served one tour in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division and two tours in Afghanistan.

In Iraq, Cotton was platoon leader for a 41-man air assault unit – planning and leading patrols.

In Afghanistan, he was part of the reconstruction effort.

Cotton is the only freshman senator to head a Senate Armed Services Subcommittee in the 114th Congress.

Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn.

The highest-ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in the House of Representatives has joined the House Armed Services Committee.

Minnesota Democrat Rep. Tim Walz, a retired Army National Guard command sergeant major, joins the House Armed Services Committee as he starts his fourth term in the House of

Representatives.

"I’m honored to be selected by the leadership to this influential committee and look forward to this new challenge and responsibility," he said in a statement.

Walz has been active in veterans’ issues during his first three terms.

He has been a strong advocate for tuition assistance and programs to help separating service members find post-service employment.

Walz joined at the Army Guard at 17 and retired after 24 years of service.

He is the highest ranking enlisted service member to ever serve in Congress, ranking slightly ahead of the late Sen. John Tower, R-Texas, who was a retired Navy master chief boatswain’s mate.

Tower rose in Congress to be the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman before he retired from the Senate in 1985.

"As a 24-year veteran of the Army National Guard, I personally understand the need to assure the safety and security of our great nation," Walz said in a statement.

Adding, "I believe in the value of open and honest debate about the most solemn act a democracy undertakes: using its military in an armed conflict. I am deeply committed to holding my colleagues and the executive branch to a strict standard of scrutiny as we debate policies that are going to put our men and women in harm’s way."