Washington, D.C. – Early this morning the House Armed Services Committee approved H.R. 4909, the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a bipartisan bill authorizing national defense spending for domestic and overseas operations. Alaska Congressman Don Young successfully secured numerous Alaska-focused provisions within the bill, which passed the Armed Services Committee by a vote of 60-2.
“Alaska offers so much to our military; unwavering support for our service members, unparalleled training areas, proximity to the Asia-Pacific, and a mutually shared respect between our Alaska-based military and our communities,” said Congressman Young. “As Congress works to reauthorize military funding for the coming year, it’s important that these characteristics remain at the forefront. I’m proud to say that this year’s NDAA builds upon a number of recent military successes in Alaska. By working with my colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee, we’ve been able to ensure Alaskan needs and priorities are reflected throughout this bill, including language to protect the future of JBER’s 4-25, meet the needs of the Alaska National Guard, transfer unused federal lands to our local communities, and update the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) procurement process. During these times of growing global threats, we must ensure our military men and women have the resources they need to serve the mission. This bipartisan legislation works to restore the strength and ability of our military, while recognizing the vital importance of Alaska.”
Language Secured by Congressman Young in the FY 2017 NDAA:
H.R.4424, the Rural Guard and Reserve Act:
- This bill seeks to eliminate barriers facing rural members of the National Guard and Reserves by reforming an arbitrary reimbursement cap for members traveling to training exercises and activities.
- Congressman Young introduced the Rural Guard and Reserve Act on February 2, 2016.
Galena Land Transfer:
- This language directs the Secretary of the Interior to convey approximately 1,290 acres of public land, the former home of the Campion Air Force Radar Station, to the town of Galena, Alaska for the purposes of ensuring the safety of the town in future Yukon River flood events. This land would be crucial to the future wellbeing of Galena’s residents, as it would allow them to continue to rebuild from the 2013 flooding of the Yukon River without future threats.
- Congressman Young secured this language as an amendment to the FY 2016 NDAA. This language, along with other land transfer provisions, was dropped during negotiations with the Senate.
HAARP Transfer to University of Alaska and AHTNA, Inc
- This language directs the Secretary of the Air Force to convey the High Frequency, Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) facility to the University of Alaska, and its surrounding areas the AHTNA, Inc.
- Following a 2014 decision by the Air Force to discontinue use of the HAARP facility, the University of Alaska worked to continue its use. Although the University has secured an operational agreement, legislation is necessary to provide for a full transfer of the facility.
- Congressman Young’s request fulfills the Air Force’s desire to relinquish ownership of the HAARP facility and its surrounding areas by authorizing the Air Force to transfer the facility and underlying land to the University of Alaska, and the surrounding areas to AHTNA, Inc.
168th Air National Guard Refueling Wing
- Congressman Young secured an amendment to the FY15 NDAA requiring the Air Force to complete a business case analysis for converting the 168th Air Refueling Wing to an Active Associate Wing.
- Given that this analysis has yet to be completed, Congressman Young secured language to the FY17 NDAA that requires the Secretary of the Air Force to take into account the basing of two F-35 squadrons at Eielson Air Force base when conducting its business case analysis for converting the 168th Air Refueling Wing at JBER to an Active- Guard unit.
Native American/Hawaiian SBA Section 811 Fix
- Congressman Young successfully included language to repeal Section 811 of the 2010 NDAA, which has had chilling affects on Native owned contractors, and replace it with a commonly used and understood procurement practice for other contracts.
- Young’s language, which was approved in the House passed FY16 NDAA but fell off during negotiations with the Senate, eliminates the confusing and foreign Section 811 five step Justification and Approval (J&A) process for Small Business Administration 8(a) program contracts and replaces it with the a J&A process from the Competition in Contracting Act.
Arctic Small Unit Support Vehicles (SUS-V):
- In order to secure the next generation of Arctic support vehicles, Congressman Young secured report language requiring the Army to present a plan to Congress for replacing the Small Unit Support Vehicles (SUS-V).
- The Army’s SUS-V fleet is used to train and operate in extreme cold weather conditions, providing units with unique arctic capabilities. According to the Army, these vehicles are far beyond their normal service life and have become extremely difficult to maintain.
Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska:
- Congressman Young secured report language requiring a review of state-owned spaceports and the role they play in Department of Defense space launch operations, including the role of the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska.
- State-owned spaceports, like Alaska Aerospace Corporation’s Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska, have played a large role in supporting national security and missile defense launch activities. This language notes the value of these spaceports, and requires the Secretary of Defense to detail opportunities to enhance the capability of these state-owned spaceports to support national security.
Provisions included in the 2017 NDAA of Alaska interest:
- Authorizes full funding for the procurement of F-35A Fighters. This funding continues progress on stationing two squadrons of F-35’s at Eielson Air Force Base, and is critical to ensuring the on-time delivery of these aircraft to Interior Alaska.
Preserving Army Force Structure, Protecting JBER’s 4-25:
- Language authorizing Army Active-Duty end strength at 480,000 soldiers. This end strength level would stop the Army’s drawdown to 450,000 troops and eliminate reductions facing JBER’s 4-25. This language is in line with the POSTURE Act, legislation cosponsored by Congressman Young.
- Report language developed by Rep. Bridenstine (R-OK) and Congressman Young to require a study on the Department of Defense’s Space-A Travel program, which allows military personnel to use excess seating aboard military aircraft.
- Many military flights originating in Alaska are vastly underused; this language requires a study on the effects of adding the inclusion of reserve component personnel and their dependents.