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Defense bill funds Missouri projects
Defense bill funds Missouri projects

Congressman Ike Skelton
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 8, 2009) — Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, announced that the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act conference report includes more than $188.77 million for projects at Whiteman Air Force Base and Fort Leonard Wood.

The projects included in the bill for Whiteman Air Force Base are:

• $5.5 million for land acquisition at the north and south base boundaries; and
• $7.4 million for an explosive ordnance disposal operations complex.

The projects included in the bill for Fort Leonard Wood are:
• $5.57 million for an addition to the dental clinic;
• $7.8 million for an addition to the health clinic;
• $17 million for a wheeled vehicle driver’s course;
• $19.5 million for a Warrior in Transition complex;
• $27 million for a digital training facility; and
• $99 million for a training barracks.

“The defense authorization bill is good for the troops, expands Whiteman Air Force Base, provides substantial military construction funds for Fort Leonard Wood, and addresses equipment shortfalls for the National Guard and Reserve,” said Skelton.

“Land acquisition funding will help Whiteman Air Force Base protect its boundaries, improve security, and prevent encroachment. It will also support efforts to prevent birdstrikes and other aircraft safety hazards. The buildings currently used for the explosive ordnance disposal mission at Whiteman are too small and no longer meet the Air Force’s requirements. The new complex will consolidate explosive ordnance disposal operations into a single state-of-the-art facility, which will significantly improve response times during emergency situations,” said Skelton.

“I’m committed to making sure Fort Leonard Wood has what it needs to accommodate the growing number of soldiers on post and offer the quality of life Americans expect for our men and women in uniform. Additions and alterations to the health and dental clinics will increase the post’s capacity to provide essential health care services for soldiers and their families,” said Skelton.

“We have an obligation to provide the best care for our wounded, ill, or injured soldiers. With a new Warrior in Transition complex, Fort Leonard Wood will play a direct role helping wounded warriors and their families prepare to return to active duty or back to civilian life,” said Skelton.

“Fort Leonard Wood has a vital national security mission as one of our country’s most important training bases. The new barracks will house soldiers sent to Fort Leonard Wood for Advanced Individual Training. The new wheeled vehicle driver’s course will enable Fort Leonard Wood to accommodate the increasing number of service members who need heavy truck driver training. The digital training facility will provide up-to-date computer labs and classrooms to support chemical, military police, and engineer professional military education courses,” said Skelton.

Overall, the defense bill authorizes $550.2 billion in budget authority for the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Energy (DOE). The bill also authorizes $130 billion to support overseas contingency operations during fiscal year 2010.

This year’s defense authorization bill concentrates on our military’s critical readiness needs in order to meet current military challenges and prepare for the future. The bill directs $11 billion for Army reset, $2 billion for Marine Corps reset, and $6.9 billion to address equipment shortfalls in the National Guard and Reserve. To address urgent issues such as dilapidated military barracks and to keep defense facilities in good working order, the bill adds $350 million for Army training barracks construction and $200 million to support National Guard and Reserve facilities and infrastructure. To boost readiness and reduce the strain on our forces, the bill increases the size of the military by 30,000 Army troops, 8,100 Marines, 14,650 Air Force personnel, and 2,477 Navy sailors.

Other provisions of the defense authorization address quality of life issues for service members and their families. The bill provides a 3.4 percent pay raise for all service members, prohibits fee increases on TRICARE inpatient care for one year, expands TRICARE health coverage for reserve component members and their families, and provides $2.2 billion for family housing programs.

The House approved the conference report to H.R. 2647, the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, by a vote of 281 to 146 on Oct. 8. The Senate must approve the conference report before the legislation may be sent to the President for his signature.

Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Skelton’s website is at www.house.gov/skelton.

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