Fort Bragg to Receive Millions Under National Defense Authorization Act

Fort Bragg will see more than $ 27.2 million in military construction projects from the Defense Spending Bill enacted last week, a bill that also includes funding to cover changes to military investigations into sexual assault and orders the Pentagon to investigate the UFO cases.

The $ 768.2 billion National Defense Authorization Act, which outlines defense spending and policy changes, was signed on December 27 by President Joe Biden.

Republican Senator Thom Tillis, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said a top priority is to ensure that Fort Bragg and other North Carolina military installations “have the support and resources that they continue to play a vital role in protecting our nation. ”

According to a press release from Tillis, plans for Fort Bragg include $ 19.5 million for a micro-grid that will use existing and new generators and $ 7.7 million for an emergency water supply system. .

Republican Senator Richard Burr said the Senate-approved bill strengthens the “national defense strategy to deal with the ever-evolving threats of the 21st century.”

“As we continue to counter aggression from our adversaries and recover from the pandemic, this defense spending bill makes significant investments to modernize our armed forces, strengthen our military advantage over China and Russia and putting our military families first, ”Burr said.

Burr said the law includes a 2.7% salary increase for the troops, increases parental leave to 12 weeks for all service members, improves military health care and supports employment for military spouses. .

Burr said the law also provides $ 7.1 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative to maintain and enhance “America’s competitive advantage over China and Russia,” as well as protect nuclear modernization programs, expand Ukraine’s Security Assistance Initiative and reduce foreign dependence on the Ministry of Defense. product acquisitions.

Republican Representative Richard Hudson, whose district includes Fort Bragg, said in a press release that supporting troops, their families and veterans was a “top priority.”

“This defense bill makes the necessary investments for Fort Bragg and military families, while excluding Democrat-led provisions like the red flag laws that threatened the Second Amendment,” Hudson said.

He said the bill prohibits the Defense Department from dishonouringly dismissing military personnel who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine – military personnel can only receive honorable or general dismissals. The ban is retroactive to the date of ordering of the COVID-19 vaccine from DOD and is in effect for at least two years.

Hudson said there were also provisions on the withdrawal from Afghanistan to include a review on the “disastrous withdrawal” and require continued reporting to Congress on DOD spending that supports Afghan resettlement activities.

He said the law increased Impact Aid funding by $ 70 million to include $ 50 million for additional Impact Aid and $ 20 million for Impact Aid for severely disabled military children.

The law also provides approximately $ 1.5 billion to improve family housing for military personnel; includes $ 517 million to treat per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as “eternal chemicals” because they don’t break down easily. The law requires the DOD to test and study the impact of exposure to PFAS in defense communities; requires independent review of the DOD Comprehensive Autism Care Demonstration Program and requires independent review of suicide prevention and response programs at various military facilities.

Sexual assault

Hudson said the law criminalizes sexual harassment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

All allegations of sexual harassment should be investigated by an independent investigator outside the chain of command.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, expressed concern that the law allows military commanders to forward complaints to the investigator or to decide to separate accused service members without a court martial and a special advocate could refer the charges to a commanding officer.

In a statement, Representative Adam Smith, of D-Washington, said that claiming the act “does not take away the commander’s authority” is a misrepresentation.

Smith said a special advocate’s office run by independent, uniformed lawyers who report to Civil Service secretaries would make decisions on whether to prosecute.

“All of this will take place separately from the military chain of command for all parties to an alleged crime,” he said.

Following:Defense Secretary and Congress seek to remove sexual assault cases from chain of command

UFO

The law obliges the secretary of defense and the director of national intelligence to establish an office “to deal with unidentified aerial phenomena”

The office will be tasked with assessing “links between unidentified aerial phenomena and opposing foreign governments”, recovering materials and determining whether the objects are causing medical effects.

Senator Marco Rubio, R-Florida, who co-sponsored the legislation, said reporting of unidentified aerial phenomena should be de-stigmatized “especially from military aviators.”

World War on Terror Memorial

The law proposes three sites on the National Mall for a memorial to the World War on Terrorism.

In 2015, the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation was created by veterans of the Fayetteville area who wanted to ensure that a monument commemorates and honors members of the armed forces and others who supported the longest war in the world. country.

The foundation worked with the National Capital Memorial Advisory Committee, the National Capital Planning Commission, the National Park Service and the Fine Arts Commission for a 24-step process.

Marina Jackman, president and CEO of the nonprofit Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation, told The Fayetteville Observer in 2020 that the next part of the process is the design phase, which depends on the location of the actual site.

While plans call for the memorial to honor the lives lost during the conflict, Jackman said his goal was also to enable others to heal, reflect and unite, which is why he would also honor those who still serve. .

Following:Veterans Day 2020: Veterans and supporters hope for Global War on Terrorism monument at National Mall

Following:Congress approves the $ 770 billion defense spending bill. Here’s what’s in it, and what’s not

Editor-in-Chief Rachael Riley can be reached at [email protected] or 910-486-3528.

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