National Defense Bill advances to provide support to Fort Drum

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Paul Steven Ghiringhelli
Sign welcomes motorists entering Fort Drum at the Iraqi Freedom Gate. To avoid rush-hour delays this summer at this gate, installation officials urge commuters to use the Mount Belvedere Gate, accessible from Watertown by Route 283 or from Interstate 81 by Route 342, or the 45th Infantry Division Gate, roughly two miles south of U.S. Route 11 traveling on Route 26 South.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWTI) — The proposed National Defense Bill is one step closer to becoming a law.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 has been advanced by the U.S. House of Representative Armed Service Committee. This NDAA proposed $778 billion in total defense spending for FY 2022.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, R-NY, claimed that if passed, the bill would be both a win for Fort Drum and the North Country. Rep. Stefanik is a member of the House Armed Service Committee.

“As the leading advocate for Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division, I am proud to give the North Country a pivotal voice as I work to advance initiatives to protect and strengthen the Fort Drum community, fully equip our troops, increase our military readiness, and support the families of service members in our district,” Rep. Stefanik said in a press release. “Our country must never fall behind in providing for a strong national defense, but the Biden Administration’s defense budget fell far short of meeting our national security needs.”

Specifically as stated in the legislation’s text, for troops and their families, the bill would authorize a 2.7% pay raise. Additionally, it would expand the in-home childcare for servicemembers pilot program, require a 10-year facility improvement plan for Child Development Centers and establish a Casualty Assistance Reform Working Group to improve the casualty affairs programs.

The new NDAA claims to directly benefit Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division. The bill would specifically require a report to leverage the local army base for a future layered missile defense system, provide $133 million to extend the range of the unmanned aircraft, MQ-1 Gray Eagle, fund arctic equipment, authorize $981 million for upgrades of the Stryker armored vehicle, $26 million for fire trucks and firefighting equipment and fund technology upgrades.

For the North Country region, the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act would fund advanced bomb suits made in the area, partnerships to improve defense technology with nearby institutions and acquire an additional MQ-4C Triton, which sources components from manufacturers in the North Country. It would also authorize $50 million to clean up unexploded ordinances on military installations.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 was first introduced to the Armed Services Committee in the House of Representatives on July 2. It will now go before members of the U.S. Senate.

Once each branch passes its versions of the NDAA, differences will be discussed and changes will be made before sending the final version to the President to be signed into law.

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