Sullivan Applauds Senate Passage of NDAA Conference Report

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate passed the conference report for the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, successfully included an amendment in the final NDAA Conference Report that aims to respond to the plan to downsize the 4-25 Airborne Brigade Combat Team currently stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, AK.

As Russia militarizes the Arctic Region, Sen. Sullivan’s amendment requires the Secretary of Defense to create a new military strategy to respond to Russia’s provocative actions in the region and to protect U.S. national security interests. Importantly, Sullivan’s amendment requires a description of an Operation Plan (OPLAN) for the protection of United States citizens, territory, freedom of navigation, and economic and trade interests in Arctic region. Per definition, this OPLAN will compel the Department of Defense to identify what manpower, weapons systems, equipment, and infrastructure the U.S. needs to ensure American-led peace and stability in the Arctic region.

“While Russia’s increasingly aggressive actions in Western Europe make headlines, their moves in the Far East and Arctic High North have not gone unnoticed by the U.S. military in my state,” said Senator Sullivan. “The United States is an Arctic nation because of Alaska and my amendment ensures that the U.S. will have a comprehensive and proactive Arctic strategy to project positive American influence into the region. Much of this power projection has its roots in Alaska – from the 4-25 ABCT and the F-22s at JBER, to the Strykers at Ft. Wainwright and missile defense assets at Ft. Greely and Clear Air Force Station.

“However, as stated by the Secretary of Defense, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, and numerous other senior leaders, we are painfully late to the Arctic. My amendment requires the Secretary of Defense to resource a strategy that will assess and be prepared to fully counter the current threats in the Arctic. And while this amendment is a critical early step, many more steps remain to ensuring a U.S.-led effort to safeguard peace and stability for all nations in the region.”

After the vote, Senator Sullivan addressed President Obama’s veto threat:

“This year’s bipartisan NDAA would be the 54th consecutive NDAA passed the Congress and signed into law. I am dumfounded at the President’s threat to veto the defense authorization. He just spent time in Alaska, landed at JBER and met with some of our service members, and now he wants to veto the bill that provides for those very people. He’s asked the Congress for more defense spending this year to counter the increasingly complex and diverse array of threats in the world, and in the same breath he issues veto threats. To govern is to prioritize and if the President vetoes this bill, he'll be telling the American public and our men and women in uniform that neither they, nor the security of our country, are his priorities. ”

Additional Sullivan NDAA Amendments:

  • Supporting the Robust Use and Training of F-35As: This amendment expresses the Sense of Congress that the Secretary of the Air Force should consider strategically significant criteria when basing forward deployed F-35As. These criteria – found in abundance in Alaska – include access to sufficient range capabilities and space for training, the ability to robustly train with our international partners, the presence of existing facilities to support operations, limited encroachment, and the minimization of costs.
  • Requesting Ground-Based Interceptors System Upgrade Report: This amendment requires the Commander of the United States Northern Command to set forth the status of current and planned efforts to improve the homeland ballistic missile defense capability of the United States and the ground infrastructure at Fort Greely. 
  • Promoting the Use of FAA-Licensed Spaceports: This amendment highlights the unique importance of spaceports like the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska found on Kodiak Island to the national security space program. The Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska has supported numerous launches for Air Force Space Command, including various national security launches.
  • Advocating for the Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) Program: This amendment encourages the Department of Defense to continue to utilize the IRT program – which in recent years has been used in Alaska to fund Operation Arctic Care, runway improvements on Kodiak Island, and costal erosion mitigation in Newtok.

Other Alaska-Related Provisions in NDAA:

  • F-35: The NDAA also supports the budget request for 57 total F-35 aircraft and includes $5.2 billion to procure 44 F-35As and keep the program on track. The USAF is currently in a public comment period for the Draft-EIS to station the F-35 at Eielson Air Force Base.
  • Missile Defense: Funds $400 million above the Department of Defense’s $8.1 billion budget request for missile defense programs. This funding includes $1.28 billion for the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. Much of the warfighting capabilities for GMD are located at Fort Greely, Alaska.
  • Missile Defense Sensors: Includes $233.6 million for Missile Defense Sensors and $137.6 million for the Long Range Discriminating Radar (LRDR), which will be located at Clear Air Force Station.
  • Taiwan Invite to RED FLAG-Alaska:  The NDAA report states that the conferees “believe that Taiwan should be encouraged to participate in exercises that include realistic air-to-air combat training, including the exercise conducted at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, and Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, commonly referred to as “Red Flag.”
  • COBRA DANE Report:  The NDAA report states, “the conferees direct the Commander of U.S. Northern Command, jointly with the Commander of U.S. Air Force Space Command, the Director, Missile Defense Agency, and the Director of National Intelligence, to provide a briefing to the congressional defense committees not later than April 1, 2016 concerning the plan for the Cobra Dane radar capability at Shemya, Alaska, including the military requirements it currently serves and whether those requirements will continue to require a material capability solution, including those requirements not related to missile defense; and any sustainment and modernization decision timelines and costs.
  • Alaska Military Construction:
    • $37 million for a F-35A Flight Simulator at Eielson Air Force Base.
    • $34 million for the repair and replacement of a boiler at Eielson Air Force Base’s central heat and power plant.
    • $7.8 million for a Physical Readiness Training Facility at Fort Greely.