Committee Advances Defense Funding Bill
Murkowski Supports Pay Raise for Troops, Bolsters Nation’s Defense Capabilities
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a senior member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, voted to advance the Defense Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2020. Senator Murkowski and her Appropriations Committee colleagues worked to craft a bill that prioritizes supporting programs critical to national security.
The bill also includes $1.7 billion in emergency funding for disaster relief, specifically in response to Hurricanes Michael and Florence, and for flooding and earthquakes that occurred in Fiscal Year 2019.
“The men and women who every day protect our nation through their service deserve our full support. Providing our military with the tools, equipment, and programs necessary to strengthen our national security is critical. I’m proud to defend the gains made by Senator Sullivan and Congressman Young, by funding programs and policies they secured for Alaska in the annual defense bill known as the NDAA,” said Senator Murkowski. “This bill supports innovative missile technology and prioritizes improving readiness by ensuring our men and women in uniform are well-equipped and well-trained. The significant investments in technology, such as cyber security, are vital in rapidly addressing emerging threats across the globe. While we may never be able to adequately thank our military for their continuous sacrifices and selfless service, this pay raise is a good effort.”
DEFENSE BILL HIGHLIGHTS
(Note: Numbers are nationwide program funding levels.)
- Military Pay Raise: Includes funds to provide for a 3.1% pay increase to military personnel.
- Missile Defense: Provides an increase to $10.58 billion for the Missile Defense Agency, which includes additional funding for cyber security, hypersonic and ballistic tracking space sensors –a new space-based program to track incoming missiles. In addition, additional funding is provided for a Next Generation Interceptor program, an improvement to the Redesigned Kill Vehicle program. Supports Israeli cooperative missile defense programs by providing $500 million.
- Science and Technology: Provides $341 million for cyber security enhancements, $436 million for a new 5G program, and $140 million for micro nuclear reactor development.
- Health Research and Development Programs: Provides $20 million to accelerate research into ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) causes, cures and therapies due to the VA determining that the presence of ALS in veterans is presumed to be service connected, as they are disproportionately affected by ALS. In addition, $5 million is provided for telemedicine research as part of the Defense Health program.
- Wildfire Training: Provides an additional $7 million to support wildfire training for National Guard personnel.
- Military Moves: Report language is included to address improving the moving experience for military members and their families and urges the Defense Department to address substantive concerns raised by military services, military families as well as industry representatives.
- Space Launch: Provides $1.2 billion for National Security Space Launch program.
- F-35A Aircraft Procurement: The bill provides $960 million to fund 59 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, as well as funding for an additional 12 F-35A and their spare parts. Includes report language which supports the prudent development and fielding of additional F-35 capabilities and directs the Under Secretary of Defense to provide comprehensive plans for configuration management and control of F-35 fleet capabilities, to include simulators, trainers, operator training, and aircraft within deployed squadrons. Eielson Air Force Base is scheduled to house two F-35A Lighting II squadrons by the year 2022.
- Innovative Readiness Training (IRT): In an effort to increase real world training opportunities and deployment readiness, $14.3 million is provided for the Innovative Readiness Training program. The program brings military reservists from across the country to Alaska for advanced training in remote construction and healthcare delivery. To escape the growing risks of coastal erosion and flooding, people from Newtok, Alaska will relocate to the new village of Mertarvik, which has been made possible in large part due to the IRT program construction efforts.
- Combat Training Ranges: Provides $15 million for design, development, and installation of digital modifications to older threat systems or simulators, which will significantly improve usefulness to the F-35 community for testing and training.
- Civil Air Patrol: In Alaska the Alaska Wing of the Civil Air Patrol performs over 95 percent of all aircraft search and rescue mission for the U.S. Air Force. The bill funds the Civil Air Patrol’s Air Force Operation and Maintenance at $7.1 million, the Air Craft Procurement at $8.2 million, and provides $1.8 million for radio equipment.
- Spaceports: Provides $10 million to ensure private spaceports, like Pacific Spaceport Alaska in Kodiak, maintain their readiness to carry out defense missions.
- Advanced Electric Vertical Take Off and Landing Unmanned Aerial System: As other nations increase their Arctic presence, it is imperative that the U.S. military do the same. Therefore, report language is included urging the Air Force to develop an advanced Electric Vertical Take Off and Landing Unmanned Aerial System, including a five-sensor detect and avoid system, for distributed logistics and a test range to provide for demonstration of the system, including operation in a GPS denied environment and to help meet Arctic defense strategies.
- Arctic Mobility: Acknowledges the strategic importance of the Arctic Ocean and the necessity for a new generation of capabilities to address the Navy’s need for Arctic mobility, to include power projection, search and rescue, humanitarian and disaster relief, and logistical support for scientific research, particularly in remote regions. Report language is included to direct the Secretary of the Navy to complete a comprehensive review of the Navy’s unmet requirements for the Arctic region and to provide a plan to the congressional defense committees to research, develop, prototype, test, and evaluate materials and components capable of allowing sustained operation of advanced amphibious vehicles in Arctic, sub-zero temperature conditions.
- Cold Weather Gear: To improve the clothing of soldiers operating in hostile environments, report language is included to encourage the Army to rapidly develop superior cold weather and Arctic clothing for soldiers –such as hand-wear, footwear, and cold/wet protective clothing systems, by also integrating fabrics that reduce weight and increase mobility in combat. The language also encourages the Army to expedite the evaluation and integration of technologies and prototype systems from the laboratory to operational use.
- Operations in a Permafrost Environment: Provides $4 million for sustainment and improvements to the US Army Corps of Engineers Permafrost Tunnel Research Facility in Fox, Alaska, whose research improves construction techniques and mobility in permafrost environments.
- Stryker Vehicle Protective Shelters (US Army Pacific): Provides $32.7 million for the procurement of seven 10,000 square foot heated enclosures for Stryker vehicles assigned to bases in Arctic weather regions, such as Fort Wainwright where the current warm storage is very limited. These protective shelters will not only reduce the costs associated with parking vehicles outside in extreme cold environments, but will eliminate the current 72 hour preparatory period necessary to thaw and drain excess fluids and dry the vehicles before they can be loaded into the Alert Holding Area and loaded for transport to the battlefield from October-April.