The federal omnibus spending bill that awaits President Obama’s signature contains $100 million for missile defense in Alaska. It's the only major funding for military construction work in Alaska this fiscal year.
The spending bill appropriates $50 million for construction work at Fort Greely’s missile-defense base. And another $50 million for design work a new radar facility elsewhere in Alaska to improve the missile-defense system’s ability to detect and track incoming enemy missiles.
Matt Felling, a spokesman for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, says those appropriations demonstrate the military’s confidence in the Ground-based Midcourse missile-defense system after it succeeded to destroying a decoy in a test earlier this year.
“Just this past June, we had a successful interceptor missile test,” Felling said. “And I think that the military realized that we’re building a lot of momentum, to double down on the funding levels, to make sure that everything possible could be done to get our missile defense as strong as possible, quickly as possible.”
Felling says the funding will pay for continued work on Greely’s missile field 1, one of three at the base. It’s part of a $1 billion project approved in 2013 to prepare the base for an expansion that would increase the number of interceptors there from the present 26 to 40 by the end of next year.
The other $50 million appropriation will be used to design a facility to house an advanced Long Range Discrimination Radar system. Felling says the military hasn’t decided whether to build that facility at Clear Air Force Station, near Anderson, or at Shemya, an island in the far western Aleutian Island archipelago.
Those are the only major appropriations for military construction in Alaska. Felling says the spending bill also contains funding for smaller projects at Fort Wainwright, Eielson Air Force Base and Joint-Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
“We have funding coming to Alaska at our military installations, he said. “We haven’t seen the dramatic increases, like we have seen in missile defense, in terms of construction on base, or construction, or maintenance.”
One proposed missile-defense facility did not get any funding in the spending bill – that’s for a second Ground-based Midcourse missile-defense installation that some lawmakers have proposed for the eastern United States. Congress approved language specifically prohibiting funding for that base in another piece of legislation passed last week, the National Defense Authorization Act.
The Alaska congressional delegation and other lawmakers have criticized in recent years, saying it’s an unnecessary installation. Felling says the authorization bill language, and $100 million appropriation for the Alaska missile-defense projects, means the proposal for the East Coast installation is dead – at least, for now.
“These bills are an affirmation of Alaska’s A.) location, in terms of defending America from threats abroad, and B.) of our ability, and our success story.”
President Obama is expected to sign the omnibus spending bill this week.