Sullivan’s Missile Defense, Alaska Priorities Included in FY18 Defense Bill

WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, the Senate Armed Services Committee, with U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan’s (R-AK) support, unanimously passed out of committee legislation to authorize $640 billion in critical defense spending for Fiscal Year 2018.

“In an increasingly dangerous world, this year’s NDAA begins the important process of rebuilding our military so that our service members have the tools and resources they need to protect America and our interests around the globe,” said Senator Sullivan. “From advancing missile defense and securing the Arctic to reaffirming alliances and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, my amendments to the NDAA help to restore American power abroad and protect American citizens domestically. Closer to home, we were able to include well over a dozen provisions that directly impact Alaska, including support for Alaska’s 4-25, and encouraging the expanded use of Kodiak’s Spaceport.”

Advancing Homeland Missile Defense:

Overall, Senator Sullivan was able to include 24 amendments and provisions in the FY 2018 NDAA, which included the majority of S.1196, Advancing America’s Missile Defense Act. Senator Sullivan’s missile defense amendment – like the AAMD Act – includes an increase of up to 28 Ground-based Interceptors – 14 of which would be slated for Alaska. The amendment also includes language to help jump start silo construction at Fort Greely and calls for a report analyzing the potential for up to 100 GBIs distributed across the U.S. In addition, Senator Sullivan also worked to secure an additional $27.5 million to begin the development of new missile defense sensor technologies in space.

“I’ve been saying for months that it’s no longer ‘if’ but ‘when’ Kim Jong-un will get the ability to strike U.S. cities with a nuclear missile,” said Senator Sullivan. “Today members of the committee are making a strong and bipartisan statement that we are going to bolster our nation’s missile defense and continue to protect America from an unstable North Korea. I was pleased to work with my colleagues on an issue that is critical to the security our country, its citizens, and our way of life.”

Securing our Arctic Interests:

Senator Sullivan included 10 Arctic-related provisions in the FY 2018 NDAA, including the authorization of six new polar-class icebreakers, an examination of ice-hardening Navy vessels, and a Department of Defense review of what forces, capabilities, infrastructure, and deep water ports are needed to protect U.S. security interests in the Arctic region.

“As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I have focused on educating my colleagues about the importance of the Arctic,” said Senator Sullivan. “From the authorization of six new icebreakers to directing the U.S. Navy to start thinking about ice-hardening its vessels, I am proud to see the major components of my legislation, the Securing our Arctic Interest Act, included in the NDAA. The Arctic continues to grow in importance and prominence, and I will not stop fighting for this strategically critical region.”

Combat Search and Rescue Provisions: 

Provisions secured by Senator Sullivan require the Air Force to look at speeding the fielding of the Air Force’s new Combat Rescue Helicopter to National Guard rescue units, and examine whether the Alaska National Guard has the number of helicopters it needs to fully meet its unique alert mission requirements. Finally, another provision encourages Air Force rescue unit associations – which would allow Active Duty units to come to Alaska to train and operate with our National Guard rescue squadrons on a regular basis. 

“Alaskans know well that our National Guard Rescue Squadrons provide year-round rescue response to save lives, whether in Alaska or deployed overseas,” said Senator Sullivan. “This year, I fought to include four important provisions that will help modernize National Guard combat rescue units, encourage Active Duty rescue units to come to Alaska to train, and look at increasing the number of helicopters in Alaska’s rescue squadrons.”

Alaska-specific Items:

$168.9 million for Alaska Military Construction at Eielson Air Force Base:  Fully authorizes $168.9 million for military construction at Eielson related to the beddown of two F-35A squadrons in 2020. This amount is in addition to the $295.6 million authorized and appropriated in Fiscal Year 2017.

Israeli Arrow-3 Test on Kodiak:  Fully authorizes the test of an Israeli missile defense system – the Arrow-3 missile system – set to take place at the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska in 2018. 

Alaska and the KC-46:  Given Alaska’s status as the hub of combat airpower – with incoming F-35A squadrons, a large F-22 presence, and other strategically located aviation assets – these amendments express that the Air Force should, in the short-term, study the possibility of increasing the number of tankers at Eielson AFB and, in the long-term, take a hard look at basing the OCONUS KC-46A at a strategically-located installation with abundant training opportunities – like Alaska.

Innovative Readiness Training: This amendment supports funding future local reserve training projects in Alaska, including Operation Arctic Care, which provides roving medical and dental care to Rural Alaska villages.

Kodiak Spaceport: Given the importance of assured access to space to U.S. national security, this amendment highlights and encourages expanding the Department of Defense’s and the Missile Defense Agency’s use of FAA-licensed spaceports, like the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska on Kodiak Island, as a vital part of our space and missile-defense test missions.

Arctic Search and Rescue:  The Alaska National Guard independently developed an Arctic search and rescue package that allows them to respond to potential large-scale mass-casualty events in the Arctic. This amendment brings attention to that effort and encourages the DOD to provide additional resources to field and expand Arctic search and rescue capabilities.

SUSV Replacement:  This amendment requires the Secretary of Defense to develop a practicable and executable acquisition strategy for the procurement of the JAASV—a replacement for the nearly 40-year-old SUSV. 

Large-scale Exercises in the JPARC:  In response to recent large-scale air and land exercises by some of our adversaries, this amendment drives the Department of Defense to begin planning additional large-scale, air and land combined exercises, and requires them to analyze ideal locations for these exercises, like Alaska’s Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC).  

International Focus: 

FONOPs Policy:  This amendment makes clear that the policy of the U.S., with regard to Freedom of Seas, is “to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.” It also states that the Secretary of Defense should routinely and regularly conduct freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in critical transportation corridors, and where possible, do so with our allies.

Importance of Allies:  One of the greatest advantages the United States has is that it is an ally rich nation and our potential adversaries are ally poor. This amendment includes language to let both our allies and adversaries know that United States intends to both deepen our existing alliances and foster new ones. 

Encourage Increased Role for India in Afghanistan: This provision encourages the Department of Defense to identify ways that India can play a larger role in providing increased and coordinated defense-related support to Afghanistan, a critical part of overcoming the current “stalemate” in the fight against the Taliban.

U.S.-Japan Relationship:  This amendment expresses the Sense of the Senate that the U.S. and Japan are indispensable partners and the security alliance between our two countries plays an essential role in promoting peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Counter Russian Activity in Europe and the Arctic: This amendment robustly supports the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) – a fund developed to counter Russia’s provocative activities and authorized at $4.6 billion this year’s NDAA – and, notably includes the Arctic as an area where U.S. military forces are needed to counter increased Russian aggression.