Proposed national defense bill could benefit Fort Drum soldiers, families

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(From left) Col. Robert Charlesworth, Maj. Gen. Thomas Spencer and Col. Sean Flynn of the New York Army National Guard stand in line as the official party during the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team change of command ceremony at Fort Drum, New York on July 17. Flynn assumed command of the light infantry brigade, which includes more than 4,000 Soldiers across New York, Masachusetts, and Rhode Island. (Army National Guard Photo by Maj. Avery Schneider)

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWTI) — A new national defense bill could benefit soldiers and families stationed at Fort Drum.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 recently passed the Armed Services Committee in the House of Representatives. According to lawmakers, this NDAA will provide $778 billion in total defense spending for the fiscal year to support servicemembers and their families, Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division and the North Country.

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 Sryker armored vehicle, $26 million for firetrucks and firefighting equipment and fund technology upgrades.

For the North Country region, the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act would fund an 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 cleanup unexploded ordinance 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 the full House of Representatives and the Senate.

Once each branch passes their 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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