Sullivan Secures $790 Million+ in Military Projects for Alaska in FY 2025 Defense Authorization

Senator’s 34 provisions address Navy shipbuilding crisis, expand support for Alaska-based service members

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), voted with 21 of his committee colleagues yesterday to advance the Fiscal Year 2025 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) from committee. The $923 billion legislation includes 34 provisions authored by Sen. Sullivan and authorizes more than $790 million in military construction for Alaska.

“This year’s NDAA reinforces Alaska’ critical role in America’s national defense with more than $790 million in military construction projects,” said Sen. Sullivan. “I was honored to be able to secure provisions that improve the resources, facilities and support that Alaska's service members and their families deserve—including blocking the proposed Air National Guard PEC staffing cut. I also secured a provision that directs the Navy to assess potential naval refueling locations in the Arctic, like the shuttered Adak naval base—another major recognition of Alaska as the epicenter of Arctic security operations. Importantly for hard-working Alaskans, I fought to include amendments that prohibit Chinese seafood from being sold in U.S. military commissaries or dining facilities, and rescind the Biden administration’s lawless rejection of the previously approved Ambler Access Project—a non-public road to one of America’s most prolific untapped reserves of critical minerals, resources that our country is concerningly reliant on China to produce. The Ambler amendment requires the Biden Interior Department, within 30 days of enactment of the NDAA, to select a viable path for the project across public land, as mandated by federal law. Theprovision would remove federal hurdles and ensure the destiny of this project is controlled by the non-federal land holders of the Northwest Arctic region, including the NANA Regional Corporation.”

Sen. Sullivan’s Alaska-related provisions:

  • Extend a travel allowance for service members stationed in Alaska to travel back to their home of record. Over 4,300 service members used this allowance in 2023 to visit family, directly impacting morale and quality of life as the Department of Defense (DoD) seeks to address mental health challenges in Alaska.
  • Create a pilot program to make Coast Guard installations eligible for the Defense Community Infrastructure Program, which funds infrastructure improvements, including for schools and police stations, for communities in Alaska near Coast Guard stations.
  • Prohibit military dining facilities and commissaries from purchasing or selling seafood that originates or is processed in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
  • Reverse the Biden administration’s decision to unlawfully cancel the Ambler Access Project through the permitting process and require the Department of the Interior to select an economically viable path forward for the access road and issue the necessary rights-of-way across public lands, taking into consideration the national security needs for the minerals found in the Ambler Mining District. The amendment does not affect the Alaska Native lands that the route may cross and puts the Ambler decision back in the hands of Alaskans.
  • Provide a one-year stay on the Air National Guard Program Element Code (PEC)-leveling, which would have negatively impacted the Alaska National Guard and its critical homeland defense mission.
  • Require the Navy to provide a detailed investment plan on how to make the pier and shore support in Adak sufficient to refuel Navy vessels. This is important given the increasing naval activity in the Arctic and approaches to the Arctic.
    • The last two summers saw a joint Russian-PRC naval task force pass through the Aleutian Islands. These task forces are expected to continue every summer.

The $790 million in military construction authorizations for Alaska include:

  • $250 million for the Joint Integrated Test and Training Facility at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson (JBER).
  • $198 million for unaccompanied enlisted personnel housing at Ft. Wainwright.
  • $120 million for family housing at JBER.
  • $67 million for a National Guard readiness center at JBER.
  • $55 million for fuel facilities at JBER.
  • $44 million for an Air National Guard base supply complex at JBER.
  • $23 million for an automated multipurpose machine gun range at Ft. Wainwright.
  • $19.3 million for a combat rescue helicopter simulator at JBER.
  • $14 million for a fuels operations and lab facility at Eielson Air Force Base.

“The biggest threat to America’s national security and global stability is Communist China, which escalates its threats against Taiwan and our partners in the Indo-Pacific every day,” said Sen. Sullivan. “None of us want a war with China, but the best way to deter the dictators in Beijing is by robustly funding our own military, and adequately training and equipping our allies. Having met recently with the new President of Taiwan in Taipei and senior Indo-Pacific leaders in Singapore, I worked hard to ensure this defense authorization reflects our allies’ concerns and feedback. That includes provisions to remove bureaucratic hurdles to the delivery of this military aid, authorize more lethal and advanced weapons systems, and dramatically escalate training opportunities with our Indo-Pacific partners. Finally, I also authored numerous provisions to address our Navy’s shipbuilding crisis—a result of the Biden administration’s lack of focus on shipbuilding and warfighting—that is leaving our forces overmatched by the Chinese Navy in the Indo-Pacific. My shipbuilding amendments require the Navy to be more predictable with procurement profiles and increase the tenure of the admiral in charge of ship design and building.”

Sen. Sullivan’s military, shipbuilding, and defense infrastructure provisions:

  • Include Sen. Sullivan’s Expanding Naval Shipbuilding Infrastructure and Growing the Navy (ENSIGN) Act, which seeks to fix systemic issues with the Navy’s ship design process by:
    • Mandating coordination between the officers and crew who will man the ships and those who design the ships at Naval Sea Systems Command.
    • Requiring the ships to be designed to a mature level before a contract is issued, addressing a significant cause of multiple shipbuilding delays. 
    • Requiring the Secretary of the Navy to stop changing procurement profiles. The shipbuilding industry doesn’t know how to invest in capital expenditures—new drydocks, cranes, metal forges, etc.—or in workforce development when multi-billion-dollar plans change year to year.
    • Establishing a groundbreaking approach to ship design that requires modular designs to be part of the source selection criteria. This means that entire warships can be designed in a modular way, built in major sections throughout the country, and then transported to the coasts for assembly. There are major benefits with this, to include: taking advantage of untapped labor markets in the interior of the country as coastal communities are often tapped out near existing shipyards; and, if properly coordinated, speeding up delivery of new construction ships. These technologies are already being utilized with the Virginia-class submarines.
    • Supporting cutting-edge naval architecture modelling and computer design.
    • Requiring an independent cost estimate using a combination of parameter-based and weight-based cost estimation for ships. Historically, the Navy is 25 to 40 percent off in its cost estimates, creating major issues with slowing down production and with multiple contract violations. In the extreme—and now common—cases, the Navy has to come back to Congress to ask for more funding.
  • Require the Commander of Naval Sea Systems Command, the organization in the Navy charged with “designing, building, delivering, and maintaining ships on-time and on-cost for the United States Navy,” to stay in that position for eight years and be eligible for promotion to full Admiral. The longer tenure and increased rank will make a huge difference in ship design, maintenance, and aspects of acquisition.
  • Require the Navy to adopt certain leading design practices for ships, particularly those used by South Korea and Japan, that have allowed their navies to build ships that are nearly identical to America’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in nearly half the time.
  • Make the Navy-provided senior medical officer of the Marine Corps a flag officer, giving the Marine Corps parity with other services.
  • Ensure there are life-saving medical supplies stationed throughout the Indo-Pacific to save service member lives in the event of conflict in the region.

“We are facing one of the most dangerous periods since World War II, with dictators on the march who are increasingly working together to undermine American interests around the globe,” said Sen. Sullivan. “Considering the threat environment of four years ago, these dangers are clearly a consequence of the Biden administration’s weakness on the world stage, particularly President Biden’s consistent attempts to cut the budget for our national defense. A strong, bipartisan group of senators have once again come together to craft a $923 billion defense budget, which is $25 billion more than the President’s proposal. My provisions help cut through the Pentagon’s red tape to speed the delivery of weapons systems, and robustly invest in the training and equipment necessary to ensure our brave men and women in uniform are never sent into a fair fight.” 

Sen. Sullivan’s acquisition-related provisions:

  • Create a Middle Tier Acquisition initiative to establish guidance aimed at programs in the two-to-five-year range. This initiative would cover rapid prototyping for innovative technologies and rapid fielding to allow for proven technology to shift to production with minimal development. This will help get companies out of the so-called “valley of death.”
  • Update the Defense Modernization Account to adopt the recommendations from the Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution Reform Commission. This will help critical, time-sensitive programs develop and procure modern equipment and technology faster.
  • Allow DoD to mix and match the best autonomous system software and hardware to produce the most lethal and effective autonomous systems. The provision addresses the status quo that prevents the mixing and matching of the best hardware with the best software.
  • Create a six-year pilot program to create new mechanisms, including consortia, to compete in fourteen critical and leading-edge technology areas. The report accompanying the bill makes clear the need to include non-traditional firms, which are often elbowed out by requirements geared to the biggest defense contractors.

Sen. Sullivan’s foreign policy-related provisions:

  • Double U.S. military training investments for Taiwan, strengthening the island democracy’s own capacity to deter Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aggression.
  • Extend the availability of security assistance for America’s allies and partners by remedying the time constraints DoD has faced in awarding contracts for necessary weapons systems.
  • Better coordinate foreign military sales and anticipate industrial base requirements by requiring the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for international and industry engagement to be present at meetings with allies where these matters are discussed.
  • Prohibit DoD funds from being used to collaborate with PRC academic institutions on scientific and technological research that could ultimately threaten U.S. defense capabilities and forward deployed forces.
  • Establish greater strategic coherence on foreign military sales and deliveries by requiring the Secretary of Defense to verify that the prioritization of such purchases is guided by American strategic documents, including the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy.
  • Address the unacceptable delays in the delivery of weapons systems to America’s allies and limits to the sophistication and lethality of certain weapons technologies by requiring the Comptroller of the United States to scrutinize the DoD’s implementation of a 2023 Sullivan-led reform meant to streamline the approval of such weapons deliveries.
  • Require the DoD to produce an unclassified report on corruption within the Chinese PLA to highlight a major vulnerability in the Chinese Communist Party leadership that can be widely publicized to the world and to the Chinese people.
  • Require the DoD to work with the Secretary of State, the Taiwanese government, and American and Taiwanese industry leaders to identify specific defense capabilities that can be coproduced with Taiwan, addressing a current impasse in getting Taiwan what it needs to defend itself.

The FY 2025 NDAA must now be debated and voted on by the full Senate. A separate defense authorization will make its way through the House of Representatives. Once both the Senate and House pass their versions of the bill, they must then be reconciled in a bicameral conference committee, and then approved by each chamber before a final version is sent to the President to be signed into law.

This marks the 64th consecutive year that SASC has come together on a bipartisan basis to advance a major defense authorization.

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