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Alaska Military Bases Get Improvements for Troops, Dependents


Begich helps secure $421 million for Defense Department

Alaska’s military bases and military operations statewide will undergo expansion and improvements designed to better serve Alaska troops and dependents, as a result of work by U.S. Sen. Mark Begich on the Senate Armed Services Committee this week.

The committee, Thursday night, authorized more than $421 million for Alaska military projects when it completed its work on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. This included $9.5 million to sustain Kodiak Launch Complex (KLC), a strategic space launch facility located in Kodiak.  KLC is also expected to receive state funds to enhance its launch capabilities.

The bill supports President Obama’s budget request of $4 million for the first stages of radar upgrades at Clear Air Force Base to support the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) System deployed at Fort Greely. Full funding was provided for modernization and sustainment of the GMD system in the amount of $1.35 billion.

“With our country engaged in two wars and continual stress and strain on our military members and families, giving them the resources they need to get the job done is an absolute must, and I am pleased to see strong support for Alaska’s military continue in the Senate,” Begich said.

At Begich’s request, the committee approved funding for a number of military projects including:

· $9.5 m  - Kodiak Launch Complex, Alaska Aerospace Corporation, Kodiak

· $1.5 m -  Acoustic Search Gliders, Anchorage

· $1.0 m -  Permafrost Tunnel, Fox

· $2.0 m -  Composite Shelters, Fairbanks

· $3.0 m -  Alaska National Guard Counterdrug Initiatives

· $6.5 m – Upgrade to the Communications Facility for -Air National Guard,  Eielson AFB

· $6.6 m – DOD Joint Regional Fire Training Facility at Elmendorf AFB

Other military construction projects in Alaska supported by Sen. Begich include:

Eielson Air Force Base –

  • $28 m – Repair Central Heat Plant and Boiler

Elmendorf Air Force Base –

  • $15 m – Construct Railhead Operations Facility

  • $10.5 m – F-22Add/Alter Weapons Release Shop

  • $4.7 m – Add/Alter Air Support Operations Squadron

Fort Greely –

  • $26 m – Fire Station

Fort Richardson –

  • $67 m – Brigade Complex

  • $34 m – Simulations Center

  • $12 m – Multi-purpose Machine Gun Range

Fort Wainwright –

  • $142.6 m – Aviation Task Force Complex Ph2a (incrementally funded, fully authorized)

  • $27 m – Aviation Task Force Complex Ph2b

  • $21 m – Family House Replacement Construction

  • $3.3 m – Urban Assault Course

The defense bill also includes a 1.4 percent pay increase for all military members.

In addition to funding for military projects and installations in Alaska, Sen. Begich also successfully inserted several amendments into the bill that will directly benefit Alaskans.

  • TRICARE dependent coverage extension-

Will allow unmarried military and retiree dependents, who do not have access to employer-sponsored health coverage, to remain in the TRICARE program up to the age of 26. This matches a provision in the national health insurance reform legislation recently passed by Congress.

  • Alaska National Guard Helicopters Report –

Mandates the Secretary of Defense provide an assessment of helicopter requirements for civil support missions in Alaska and any corrective actions required to mitigate shortfalls, including providing additional helicopters to the state. Alaska’s National Guard conducts the most search and rescue missions in the country. This provision brings Alaska’s needs for helicopters to the highest levels by mandating an assessment by the Secretary.

  • Housing Allowance Review –

Requires the General Accounting Office to assess and study DOD’s methodology and surveys used to determine rates for the Basic Housing Allowance. Recent adjustments to the rates, particularly in Alaska where utilities costs have increased, have raised concerns about geographic equity.

  • Wind Turbine Strategy –

A legislative provision requiring DOD to implement a comprehensive strategy to ensure renewable energy projects can be completed while not impacting military readiness.  Mandates the Department of Defense should mitigate impacts of renewable energy projects, such as wind turbines, through increased research and development, upgrades of military systems and buying new systems compatible with renewable energy projects. As wind turbines gain interest and use in Alaska communities, this provision is designed to build cooperation between turbine operations and local bases.

The total authorization for the Department of Defense for Fiscal Year 2011 in the bill reported by the committee is $725.7 billion. The bill is expected to be considered in the Senate in coming months and then move to conference with the House of Representatives.  Appropriations for the Department of Defense will follow later this year.
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