Congress Passes 60th Consecutive Annual National Defense Authorization Act
FY 2021 NDAA Includes More Than $150 Million in Military Construction for Alaska
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, today joined 83 of his colleagues in voting to pass the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) following a constructive conference process between the House and the Senate. The bill authorizes $740.5 billion in critical defense spending and includes numerous provisions and amendments introduced by Sullivan, many of which directly impact Alaska and will bring more than $150 million in military construction to the state.
“This year’s NDAA marks the sixtieth year in a row that Congress has passed this vital defense authorization bill,” said Senator Sullivan. “This amazing achievement clearly demonstrates to the American people that bipartisanship does, in fact, exist in the halls of the U.S. Capitol and it tells our service membersthat Congress continues to have their back.
“As our country recovers from the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, we must continue to provide our men and women in uniform with the resources they need to defend America. This strong, bipartisan legislation builds on the robust military investments we’ve made over the last four years with meaningful investments in the health and well-being of our service members—including another pay raise—as well as investments in advanced weapons systems, missile defense, domestic supply chains, and much-needed development of the Arctic.”
Strategic Importance of the Arctic
The FY 2021 NDAA includes a number of Arctic-related provisions that Senator Sullivan pushed for from his seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, to include the establishment of a Department of Defense (DOD) regional center for security studies focused specifically on the Arctic. This bill highlights the strategic importance of Alaska in the Arctic and invests in military infrastructure and capabilities the U.S. needs to successfully compete with Russia and China in the region.
“Building on years of past successes, this year’s NDAA is one of the most consequential defense policy bills Alaska has seen in recent years,” said Senator Sullivan. “Foremost among these successes is the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies, which will establish a forum for strategic thinkers from all over the world to tackle the present and future challenges our nation faces in the Arctic. I look forward to continue working with Senator Murkowski to make sure this center is stood up as soon as possible.”
- Ted Stevens Arctic Center: The FY 2021 NDAA includes a Sullivan-authored, Senator Murkowski-inspired amendment for a new regional DOD Center, named after the late Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), which would be the first DOD regional center in the Arctic and the first new DOD regional center established since 2000. The center would be authorized for establishment in Alaska and would support defense strategy objectives and policy priorities through a unique academic forum, while also fostering strong international networks of security leaders.
- $46 Million for Arctic Communications Capabilities: The FY 2021 NDAA authorizes $46 million for an initial satellite capability to begin to establish more robust communications at the northern latitudes of the Arctic. The U.S. is an Arctic nation and stable communications is a basic first step to ensuring that the U.S. is appropriately postured for “great power competition” in the Arctic region.
- $162 million for Alaska Military Construction: The FY 2021 NDAA authorizes $48 million for a communications center at Fort Greely, and $59 million for a new dorm-style barracks and $55 million for a child development center at Fort Wainwright.
- DASD for the Arctic: The FY 2021 NDAA requires the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs to assign responsibility for the Arctic region to the deputy assistant secretary of defense (DASD) for the Western Hemisphere or any other DASD that the secretary of defense considers appropriate.
- North Warning System Modernization: The FY 2021 NDAA directs the DOD to conduct a report on the status of North Warning System infrastructure and develop a plan to modernize the system for integration with space-based infrastructure. The North Warning System is a string of 47 long- and short-range radar stations that stretch across the Arctic from Labrador, Canada to Alaska. These stations provide electronic observation and surveillance capability across the poles for cruise missiles.
- Rural Incentive Payments: The FY 2021 NDAA authorizes award incentive payments to be given to employees working at locations with geographic remoteness, isolation, or extreme climate conditions—like Eielson Air Force Base, Fort Greely, and Clear Air Force Station.
- Study on Prevention of Suicide at Remote Locations: The FY 2021 NDAA requires the DOD to complete a study addressing suicide among service members at remote installations, including an assessment of the availability of information from indigenous populations and graduate research programs in the area.
Securing Supply Chains
The FY 2021 NDAA focuses on securing vital defense industrial base supply chains and decreasing U.S. reliance on unsecure foreign sources of materials critical to national security. Senator Sullivan fought to include provisions that seek to secure critical mineral supply chains to combat Chinese dominance in the manufacturing and processing of minerals critical to the defense industrial base. Senator Sullivan also held a hearing on this topic back in October with Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the striking vulnerabilities and gaps in our domestic supply chains, and the need to invest in critical mineral manufacturing and processing has taken on a new urgency,” said Senator Sullivan. “The U.S. needs to place a new emphasis on home-shoring the production of these critical minerals, particularly in states, like Alaska, where these minerals are found in abundance.”
- Critical Minerals: The FY 2021 NDAA includes two Sullivan-authored amendments to address the United States’ rising dependence on China and other foreign countries for minerals and metals that are critical for virtually all modern technology, including strategic defense technologies. These provisions set forth U.S. policy to achieve ambitious 15-year critical mineral goals and would require the DOD to produce a study on U.S. defense critical mineral needs.
Other key Sullivan priorities in the FY 2021 NDAA include:
- Missile Defense: The FY 2021 NDAA includes several Sullivan-authored missile defense amendments that mandate a new program of record for a new interim ground-based interceptor (GBI) to more quickly fill the twenty empty silos at Fort Greely, and includes funding for the Missile Defense Agency to develop the Hypersonic Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS).
- Diversity and Inclusion: The FY 2021 NDAA includes a Sullivan-authored diversity and inclusion amendment that supports oversight of the DOD’s efforts to foster diversity and equality through the creation of both an immediate-term Defense Board and a longer-term Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion in the Armed Forces.
- Native Lands Mitigation Program: The FY 2021 NDAA authorizes the DOD to participate in and establish a program to mitigate environmental effects attributed to past DOD actions on Native American and Alaska Native lands.
- Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) Program: This provision encourages the DOD to continue utilizing IRT wherever possible and authorizes nearly $30 million to help more units and communities participate in this important program.
Additional provision of note in the FY 2021 NDAA include:
- A three percent pay raise for service members;
- Resources to help the military respond to the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Reforms to the DOD’s inefficient business operations;
- Direction and funding to reposition U.S. forces in the Indo-Pacific region to effectively compete with Russia and China;
- Reforms and oversight of sexual assault prevention, military privatized housing, and military health care; and
- Funding for emerging technologies, such as hypersonics, biotechnologies, and cybersecurity.
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