Murkowski: Defense Bill Bolsters Alaska’s Military Footprint
Senator’s Missile Defense Advocacy Reaps Improvement Funds, Eielson Confirmed as Preferred Location for F-35s
Senator Lisa Murkowski today announced that the House and Senate negotiations to craft a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to fund America’s military for the upcoming year reflect a number of the key Alaskan priorities she has worked with Congressional leadership to advance.
“Alaska’s tactical position on the globe has long made us an ideal investment for the nation’s defense, and the results of this year’s NDAA discussions demonstrate that Congressional leadership continues to prioritize not only Alaska’s current missions, but also a range of operations in the mid- and long-term,” said Murkowski. “While I welcome Congressional testimony expressing verbal support of Alaska’s military, the funding levels and Congressional commitments are where the rubber meets the road in terms of our nation’s defense and Alaskan benefits.”
Among the results for Alaska:
- $40 Million – and Certainty – for Missile Defense in Alaska: With the momentum of June’s successful interceptor test, the Department of Defense has slotted $40 million for improvements and expansions to the missile defense system at Fort Greely. Of similar importance, the NDAA also blocks funding for consideration of an East Coast missile site – demonstrating the Pentagon’s focus on Alaska’s capacity rather than envisioning alternatives elsewhere.
- Long Range Discrimination Radar Project Gets Green Light: A priority the Missile Defense Agency described as ‘absolutely vital’ to Senator Murkowski in June, this year’s NDAA authorizes funding to begin design of a missile defense radar that will be built within Alaska – with a construction timeframe of roughly ten years.
- Affirming Eielson’s F-35s: The NDAA’s ‘explanatory report’ that details the reasoning behind the bill’s provisions clearly states that Eielson Air Force Base is the preferred location for two squadrons of F-35s and delivers full funding to keep the goal of 2019 aircraft basing on track. Congressman Don Young successfully included language in the House to express Congress’ support for stationing the F-35 at Eielson AFB.
- Additional Considerations for Eielson AFB: The Defense authorization bill requires the United States Air Force to conduct an analysis of the merits of having additional KC-135 refueling aircraft at Eielson that would require more Air Force personnel to man and maintain, where this is currently only an Alaska Air National Guard operation. The language, which the Alaska National Guard considered their top priority for FY2015, was included by Congressman Young as an amendment in the House.
- Nome Gets Desired Land Transfer: The negotiated National Defense Authorization Act also transfers 7 acres of land in Nome near the Port to the City of Nome in order to expand possible economic development opportunities.