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Begich Provisions in NDAA Cut Pentagon Waste, Spur Investment in Alaska’s Military

Alaska Stands to Gain Big in 2014 National Defense Authorization Act

Significant investments in Alaska military infrastructure and readiness are reflected in the new Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) agreement.  The agreement was reached earlier this week, is expected to pass the House of Representatives before the end of the week.

The agreement includes provisions championed by U.S. Senator Mark Begich to curb wasteful spending, decrease Pentagon bureaucracy, prevent  base closings and bring $200 million in military construction to Alaska. The agreement also provides a 1 percent pay raise for members of the Armed Forces and rejects Tricare health care fee increases for military retirees, veterans and their families as proposed by the Obama Administration.

“I am pleased this bill includes so much great news for Alaska including $200 million in military construction and strong investments in Alaska’s strategic military bases,” said Begich. “By working together we have achieved a balanced approach that makes necessary investments while cutting waste and reducing bureaucracy. I do, however, wish this bill went further to curb sexual assault in the military.  I will continue to fight to end sexual assault in the military for good.”  

Sen. Begich is a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies as well as a former member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Senate is expected to vote on the 2014 NDAA before the Christmas holiday.

Provisions supported by Sen. Begich include:

Alaska Military Construction:

This year’s bill includes significantly more investment in Alaska’s military bases than last year—an increase from $18.3 million to more than $200 million:

  • Fort Wainwright: Aviation Battalion Complex $45 million
  • Fort Wainwright: Aviation Storage Hanger $58 million
  • Clear Air Force Station: Upgrade Radar $17.204 million
  • Fort Greely: Missile Field 1 Mechanical Engineering Building $82 million
  • $1.06 Billion for Missile Defense in Alaska – Sen. Begich specifically requested $210 million above the President’s request to improve homeland missile defense deployed in Alaska, which includes $30 million to deploy second X-band radar to increase the capabilities of the existing system. The additional radars and sensors will likely be stationed in Alaska.

Cutting Wasteful Spending:

Sen. Begich has fought against taxpayer dollars being spent on wasteful programs, including these provisions in the NDAA agreement:

  • Prohibits any funds from being spent on MEADS – an over-budget behind schedule missile defense system.
     
  • Prohibits Department of Defense money from being spent on contracts with the corrupt Russian arms dealer, Rosoboronexport – Senator Begich has championed ceasing business with this Russian company, which also supplied arms to the Syrian government, since last year. 
  • Cuts $17.1 million from wasteful IT program - cuts research and development for General Fund Enterprise Business System (GFEBS). Since his tenure in office, Senator Begich has expressed opposition to continued investment in this IT program.
  • Caps executive compensation – Caps executive compensation on DOD contracts to $625,000 and does away with a current flawed formula allowing for significant compensation and instead ties increases to the Economic Cost Index.
  • Reduces Pentagon bureaucracy - requires several studies on decreasing Pentagon bureaucracy.

Keeping Alaska Mission Ready:

  • No BRAC - Rejects BRAC authority requested by the Administration. Earlier this year, with Sens. Baucus and Tester of Montana, Senator Begich introduced a resolution expressing the Sense of the Senate that domestic BRAC authority not be provided until a comprehensive overseas base closure occurs.
     
  • Modernize C-130s – Provides $47 million for Guard and Reserve for a ready force per Sen. Begich’s request. JBER unit has C-130s. The DOD had proposed to cancel modernization of this aircraft.
     
  • Strengthen Sherpa force in Alaska - Transfers up to eight C-23 Sherpa aircraft to the State of Alaska. The bill also contains language to transfers up to 15 C-27s from DOD to the Coast Guard and Forest Service. The Sherpa have proved instrumental in life saving missions resulting from natural disasters in Alaska and the C27, a similar platform, is instrumental to Coast Guard roles and missions.

Supporting Readiness and Alaska Infrastructure:

  • Fully fund the F-35 - procurement and testing program. Due to the efforts of the Alaska congressional delegation, Eielson Air Force Base is a candidate for stationing this platform.

Military sexual assault

The agreement also includes important measures to address sexual assault in the military. However, the stronger provisions supported by Sen. Begich to realign judicial proceeding decisions outside of the chain of command were not included in the bill.  Senate leaders have said they will schedule a separate vote on that proposal early next year.  Sen. Begich intends to continue his advocacy to prevent and prosecute sexual assault in the military.

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