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Federal defense bill sends $14 million to Alaska National Guard

(Alaska National Guard/Facebook)

Within the federal defense bill that passed the Senate and House earlier this month is $14 million for projects connected to the Alaska National Guard.

In addition to money for design work and construction is a 5.2% pay increase for troops, including both Alaska guardsmen and Defense Department employees.

That means bigger paychecks for the roughly 4,000 members of the Alaska National Guard, 1,200 of whom are full-time with the organization, as well as approximately 500 civilians working for the military in Alaska.

Included in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2024 is $5 million for early designs of what will become a dual-bay hangar for four refueling tankers being added to the fleet based at Eielson Air Force Base outside Fairbanks. The Guard uses KC-135 Stratotankers for midair fuel transfers to a range of military aircraft, including F-35s and the F-22 fighter jets scrambled to intercept foreign planes approaching Alaska airspace. Building that hangar facility will cost significantly more money, and there’s not yet a gross estimate.

“The $5 million will begin the design process, which has to happen before the remainder of the construction can be funded,” Alaska National Guard spokesman Alan Brown wrote in an email.

[Previously: Air Force gas stations in the sky are aging, with replacements hamstrung and a capacity crunch looming]

The defense bill sends $7 million for construction work on an “alert crew facility” at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage for the search and rescue crews attached to the Guard’s 210th, 211th and 212th squadrons. The Alaska Air National Guard’s pilots, paramedics and flight crews are sent out to locate and retrieve people who become lost or injured in many of the state’s most remote corners, and are scheduled around the clock, 365 days a year, to deploy for missions on short notice.

“An alert crew facility provides short-term, in-house lodging similar to a dormitory,” Brown said. “The facility will be connected to the existing hangar that the rescue squadrons currently work from.”

Another $2 million will go toward planning and designing a building to house a flight simulator for training on the HC-130J Combat King II, the aircraft the Guard uses for long-range search and rescue operations.

“These NDAA priorities again show the critical strategic value of Alaska in the Pacific region and across the globe,” said Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe, adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard, in a statement announcing the funding.

More federal dollars may reach Guard units in Alaska by way of other appropriations from the National Guard Bureau, or spending decisions by the Army or Air Force, according to Brown.

The 2024 NDAA passed by Congress spends $841.4 billion on defense and is expected to be signed into law by President Joe Biden.


(c) 2023 the Alaska Dispatch News

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