By WILL WHATLEY, Alabama Daily News
President Donald Trump on Monday signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019, which authorizes $716 billion for national defense.
“It is vital that we continue to prioritize our national security by ensuring that our military is highly trained and well-equipped to best protect our great nation,” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL).
The Trump Administration worked in close partnership with Congress to complete the NDAA. This is the earliest in the year Congress has completed the NDAA in more than two decades.
The NDAA helps develop a more lethal and resilient force, and grows the size of the armed forces by authorizing an increase of 15,600 troops across the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. The NDAA authorizes end strengths of 487,500 in the Army; 335,400 in the Navy; 186,100 in the Marine Corps; and 329,100 in the Air Force.
The NDAA also authorizes $7.6 billion to procure 77 F-35 fighter jets and $24.1 billion to fund the construction of 13 new battle force ships and accelerates funding for several future ships.
“This year’s NDAA continues the progress we have made at rebuilding our military and reforming the bureaucracy at the Pentagon,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-1). “I am especially proud the bill includes so many provisions important to Alabama, including the authorization for three Littoral Combat Ships which are built by Austal USA in Mobile.”
“From Redstone in Huntsville to Fort Rucker to Maxwell-Gunter in Montgomery to the Anniston Army Deport, this bill ensures that Alabama remains at the forefront of supporting our nation’s military men and women,” Byrne added.
According to Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-5), America faces the most complex and grave set of threats since World War II.
“Addressing these threats requires a lethal and capable military that can quickly deploy wherever and whenever needed,” said Brooks. “The FY19 NDAA President Trump signed into law today arms our military with much-needed highly-advanced weaponry and training.”
Brooks says the FY19 NDAA dramatically increases military funding, including $18 billion for Army equipment replacement, $41 billion for aircraft, $36 billion for naval fleet improvements, $23 billion for military facilities and infrastructure, and a 2.6% pay raise for military personnel.
The NDAA also extends special pay and bonuses for those in high demand fields. The NDAA will also address the employment challenges facing military spouses by enhancing the My Career Advancement Program.
“The FY19 NDAA is a huge victory for Redstone Arsenal and the Tennessee Valley’s defense community,” Brooks added.
The FY19 NDAA authorizes $192 million for an improved turbine engine for Black Hawk and Apache helicopters; $140 million to the Missile Defense Agency to advance hypersonic and directed energy weapons research, development, and transition efforts; $490 million for Standard Missile procurement and another $181 million for improvements; and $254 million for space programs and technology.
Added Brooks, “the list of wins for the Tennessee Valley defense community could go on and on because of the Tennessee Valley’s leadership in America’s research, development, procurement and production of advanced weaponry for America’s defense arsenal.”
Other members of Alabama’s congressional delegation were also pleased at the bill’s signing.
“Proud to see the NDAA signed into law today by President Trump,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (AL-3). “This important legislation is critical to our nation and East Alabama and includes important reforms on how depots – like the Anniston Army Depot – are assigned workload. When our depots work better, our nation’s warfighters are better prepared.”