Sullivan Champions Alaska, the Arctic in Robust FY 2023 Defense Authorization

Invests in Service Member Mental Health & Well-being; Blocks Far-Left ‘Woke’ Agenda in Military

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), voted with 22 of his committee colleagues yesterday to advance the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which would raise the Department of Defense’s (DOD) budget by $45 billion beyond President Joe Biden’s inadequate defense budget proposal that amounted to an inflation-adjusted cut. The legislation includes 33 provisions offered by Sen. Sullivan, and authorizes $365 million in military construction and equipment for Alaska and the Arctic.

“Our world has become significantly more dangerous in the past year, with the first outbreak of war on the European continent in decades and escalating provocations in the Taiwan Strait,” said Sen. Sullivan. “Even amid this myriad of threats, President Biden refused to offer a defense budget that even keeps pace with the super-charged inflation his administration’s policies have unleashed. This bipartisan defense authorization act crafted by the Armed Services Committee significantly raises the top-line military budget for our troops and their families, rises to the challenges posed by this new era of authoritarian aggression, and invests in the capabilities and equipment necessary for our forces to deter and, if necessary, defeat our global adversaries.” 

“It’s also important to note what is not in this defense authorization. I fought vigorously against misguided amendments and Pentagon policies that seek to advance the ‘woke’ agenda in the ranks. I thank my colleagues for helping me remove distractions from our military’s primary mission and focus: lethality and winning our nation’s wars.”

“Senator Sullivan understands what our military needs to win now and into the future,” said SASC Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). “He has tirelessly advocated to increase the defense topline and provide our troops with the resources they need to counter all the threats we face, including China and Russia. And let me tell you: No one better understands the importance of the Arctic to our national security, and fights harder for our troops serving in Alaska, than Dan Sullivan.” 

The Fiscal Year 2023 NDAA:

  • Authorizes $857 billion in defense funding, increasing the topline by $45 billion over the Biden administration’s anemic proposal, to address the effects of inflation and accelerate implementation of the National Defense Strategy. This budget would represent 4.6% in real growth over the FY 2022 enacted defense budget.
  • Increases funding for the procurement of combat aircraft, naval surface and undersea vessels, armored fighting vehicles, munitions, long-range fires, and short-range fires.
  • Includes a provision offered by Sen. Sullivan requiring the Navy to maintain a minimum of 31 amphibious warships to support the U.S. Marine Corps.
  • Authorizes FY 2023 active-duty end strengths for the Army of 473,000; the Navy, 354,000; the Marine Corps, 177,000; the Air Force, 325,344; and the Space Force, 8,600.
  • Authorizes significant funding increases for game-changing technologies like microelectronics, hypersonic weapons, and low-cost attritable aircraft.
  • Authorizes the full FY 2023 budget request for the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), a DOD effort established in 2014 to increase the readiness and responsiveness of U.S. forces in Europe, in partnership with U.S. allies, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Extends through FY 2023 the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI), a DOD effort established in 2021 to increase the readiness and responsiveness of U.S. forces in the Pacific, in partnership with U.S. allies, following China’s militarization of the South China Sea and other provocative actions in Asia.
  • Continues research and development of the nuclear sea-launched cruise missile.
  • Includes a Sullivan-led authorization of $1 billion for the National Defense Stockpile to acquire strategic and critical minerals currently in shortfall.
  • Requires the DOD to produce a report clarifying the roles and responsibilities of each service and combatant command involved in missile defense. 

Refocusing the Pentagon on Core Mission and Priorities

The FY 2023 NDAA pushes back on the “woke” agenda being pushed on the military by the Biden administration, including three amendments offered by Sen. Sullivan: 

  • Directing the Pentagon to discontinue further investment in a DOD-wide effort to root out “extremism” given the extraordinarily low rate of extremism in the military, as determined by the secretary of defense’s Countering Extremist Activity Working Group.
  • Re-emphasizing lethality, deterrence and winning wars as the primary considerations when determining and implementing defense policies.
  • Blocking a proposed Pentagon policy that would allow each service member to veto their duty station assignment if they disagree with laws and regulations in the state or community they are being assigned to.

Continuing the Military Build-up in the Arctic and Alaska - $365 Million Dollars

Senator Sullivan secured a number of Alaska- and Arctic-focused provisions in the FY 2023 NDAA, including $365 million in military construction and equipment. 

“I like to say that Alaska constitutes three pillars of America's military might,” said Sen. Sullivan. “We are the cornerstone of missile defense. Almost all of the radar systems and all of the ground-based missile interceptors protecting the whole country are located in Alaska. With over 100 fifth-generation fighter jets, we are the hub of air combat power for the Arctic and Indo-Pacific. We are a platform for expeditionary forces—Arctic-tough warriors of the newly-minted 11th Airborne Division who can quickly get to all parts of the world. We are also home to the DOD’s newest regional center, the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies. Now, with $365 million authorized for military construction and maintenance, and many other provisions we were able to secure in this NDAA, our state will be further cemented as the center of gravity for America's Arctic security operations.”

The Fiscal Year 2023 NDAA:

  • Includes a Sullivan amendment mandating that the secretary of defense establish the Sullivan-authored Arctic Security Initiative (ASI). The ASI, DOD’s third region-specific initiative, features a five-year plan to fully resource the DOD’s and individual service-specific strategies for the Arctic that have been released over the past several years. The initiative is expected to lead to a significant increase in focus and funding for the Arctic.
  • Builds on the historic military build-up in Alaska and the Arctic over the past several years, including the arrival of the F-35 fighters at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, the establishment of the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies, and the activation of the 11th Airborne Division.
  • Provides $65 million for Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment (OCIE) and $9 million for cold-weather gear.
  • Authorizes $50 million to upgrade Fort Wainwright recreational facilities, upgrades that were zeroed-out in the President’s budget proposal.
  • Authorizes $63 million for an aircraft maintenance hangar at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER), which was zeroed-out in the President’s budget proposal. 
  • Authorizes $68 million for a dormitory at Clear Space Force Station.
  • Authorizes $100 million for an extension of the runway at JBER.
  • Authorizes $5.2 million for the removal of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)-contaminated soil at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER), which was zeroed-out in the President’s budget proposal.
  • Authorizes $5 million for Alaska Long Range Radar Site Digitalization, which was zeroed-out in the President’s budget proposal.
  • Directs DOD to report on bulk fuel and runway infrastructure improvements necessary to make the shuttered military base on Adak Island operational again.
  • Directs the commandant of the Marine Corps to brief SASC on the applicability of Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) and Stand-in Forces to the defense of U.S. interests in the Arctic.
  • Recognizes the advantages of Alaska’s unique geographic location for the land-based, down-range testing of hypersonic weapons and defenses, particularly the Aleutian Test Range.
  • Requires the secretary of defense to consider infrastructure improvements to strategic seaports required by the FY 2020 NDAA, like the Port of Alaska, for inclusion in the Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot (DCIP) Program.

Prioritizing Service Member Health & Well-being

The FY 2023 NDAA includes significant provisions focused on the mental health and well-being of service members, including seven provisions offered by Senator Sullivan, some of which are from the Don Young Arctic Warrior Act, introduced by Senators Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-Calif.). 

These provisions seek to expand access to mental health providers and support at remote military installations, incentivize behavioral health students to work in the military health care system upon graduation, and improve the living conditions of service members stationed in Alaska. 

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