Sen. Dan Sullivan

Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan. Courtesy Sen. Sullivan’s office

Sen. Dan Sullivan voted for a $25 billion increase in the fiscal 2022 Department of Defense budget that includes his Arctic Security initiative for assessing personnel, equipment and infrastructure needs to fully support the U.S. military in Alaska.

The proposed budget “includes a number of vital provisions that I secured recognizing the strategic importance of Alaska to our nation’s defense,” Sullivan said, adding that the initiative represents a greater investment in America’s Arctic “in defense of our nation’s interests in this critically important region.” 

Sullivan, a member of the Armed Services Committee, voted last week to advance from committee the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which increases the DoD spending plan beyond President Biden’s proposal. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.

“Sen. Sullivan has argued repeatedly over the past several weeks that the president’s defense budget is inadequate, not even keeping pace with inflation and amounting to a cut,” according to a statement from the senator’s office.

The Armed Services Committee voted 23-3 to advance the amended budget, part of a lengthy process by Congress to set DoD funding and policies. The U.S. House is considering similar legislation.

“The Armed Services Committee has delivered an overwhelming, bipartisan rebuke of President Biden’s inadequate budget proposal ... ,” Sullivan said. The senator noted that the committee's defense spending increases follow recommendations by a 2018 bipartisan commission on defense.

“I applaud my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, on the committee for doing what the president and far-left members of the administration failed to do — prioritizing our national security and our troops,” Sullivan said.

Strategic competition with Russia and China

A preface to the National Defense Authorization Act, released by the Senate Armed Services Committee, states that the United States is engaged in a strategic competition with China and Russia, "near-peer rivals that do not accept U.S. global leadership or the international norms that have helped keep the peace for the better part of a century."

Enhancing Arctic security is considered an important part of U.S. military strategy, as climate change has opened up sea routes and increased global interest in natural resources in the region.

The Arctic Security Initiative provision, led by Sullivan, aligns with similar geographic-based initiatives to safeguard security across the globe. Congress previously authorized two region-specific security initiatives: the European Defense Initiative in 2014 to counter Russian aggression, and the Pacific Deterrence Initiative in 2021, in response to Chinese military activities.

“Sen. Sullivan was able to include a provision authorizing a third such initiative” in the fiscal 2022 defense budget proposal, according to the senator's office. The Arctic Security Initiative includes a five-year plan to address the U.S. military’s service-specific Arctic strategies.

Overall, the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act includes the largest investment in military construction in a decade and is $2.9 billion more than the president requested. Sullivan estimated that the spending could yield "another $150 million for military construction for Alaska."

Expanding the U.S. military in Alaska

"The growth of our military in our state will continue," Sullivan said in an interview Saturday with the News-Miner. The senator was in the greater Fairbanks area to accompany U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who toured Alaska's military bases and met with service members.

The fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act also would invest more in defense technology in areas that include microelectronics, artificial intelligence, hypersonic weapons and directed energy.

It fully funds the U.S. Cyber Command to better safeguard the nation against cyberattacks and strengthen U.S. offensive and defensive capabilities.

In addition, the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act:

• Increases funds for national defense by $25 billion over President Biden’s request. The increase aligns with a National Defense Strategy Commission’s recommendation that brings the total to $778 billion.

• Gives military service members a 2.7 percent pay raise, improves military healthcare, enhances employment opportunities for military spouses, and increases access for service members to quality housing.

• Raises spending by $1 billion for a new Pacific deterrence initiative based on the Indo-Pacific Command’s priorities.

• Fortifies America’s defense industrial base and supply chain against threats by China.

Contact Linda F. Hersey at 907-459-7504 or follow her at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.