Sinema, Kelly: Major Arizona Priorities Included in Committee-Passed Annual Defense Bill

Jun 23, 2023

Sinema secured inclusion of her COMFORT Act into bipartisan legislation
Advances long-term future of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base 
Elevates Role of Fort Huachuca in Electronic Warfare 
Supports Major Infrastructure Projects at Luke Air Force Base, Yuma Proving Ground, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Camp Navajo, and Military Facilities Across Arizona 

WASHINGTON – Arizona Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly today announced major Arizona priorities they secured in the annual defense legislation – the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – which was passed out of committee yesterday on a strong bipartisan vote. 
The defense bill includes resources to bring new missions to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (DM), expand operations at Fort Huachuca, and make critical infrastructure upgrades to military facilities across Arizona. 
“America is stronger and safer thanks to Arizona’s military and defense operations — and they rely on critical investments from our annual bipartisan defense legislation. We’re providing servicemembers and our military community with the tools and resources necessary to keep our nation safe and secure,” said Sinema. 
“Arizona has a long and proud history of supporting our military and will play a critical role in our national security in the decades ahead. This defense bill provides the resources and oversight necessary to continue the Air Force’s work to bring new, long-term flying missions to Davis-Monthan, including a new special operations wing, ensuring the base will remain central to our national security strategy for years to come. As a 25-year Navy combat veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, ensuring those serving in our military have the resources needed to do their jobs is a top priority. I’m proud to have worked closely with Democrats and Republicans to secure these priorities and further Arizona’s contributions to our military and national security,” said Kelly.   
Sinema’s bipartisan COMFORT Act strengthens access to counseling services on military installations by allowing Military and Family Life counselors to work outside of the state in which they are licensed. Sinema’s bipartisan legislation addresses the nation-wide shortage of behavioral health professionals serving the military and veteran community.
See below for a breakdown of specific Arizona provisions in the SASC markup of NDAA:  
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base 
Sinema, Kelly, and the Arizona Delegation have consistently engaged Air Force leadership to bring new, durable flying missions to Davis-Monthan and secure the long-term future of the base. Last year’s NDAA included language to prioritize DM as the Air Force determines locations of future flying missions. In April, Sinema and Kelly led a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force urging collaboration with the Tucson community and the congressional delegation after they were briefed on the Air Force’s plan for the future of the base, which includes advanced electronic warfare, rescue, and special operations components. Key NDAA provisions include: 

  •  $5 million to carry out the ongoing site review and planning to establish the new Special Operations Power Projection wing at DM; 
  • Directs DoD to provide the committee a full accounting of anticipated steps, timeline, and budget plans for actions necessary to complete the restructure plan; 
  • Adds $8.5 million for the Air Force Reserve’s Guardian Angel Preservation of the Force and Family (POTFF) Facility which will support troop readiness by providing space for exercise, physical therapy, rehabilitation, mental health, and family counseling; 
  • Encourages the Air Force to make progress on funding for training simulators to support the Compass Call fleet based entirely at DM; 
  • Supports the HH-60W combat rescue helicopter procurement, and restructure activities that will bring additional rescue assets to DM over the next three years. Requires a report on the feasibility of locating all of the 214th Attack Group’s MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft elements at DM to improve mission efficiency, allow for 24/7 launch ability, save thousands of hours of commute time, and free up space for new mission opportunities at Fort Huachuca.
  • Requires a report on the feasibility of locating all of the 214th Attack Group’s MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft elements at DM to improve mission efficiency, allow for 24/7 launch ability, save thousands of hours of commute time, and free up space for new mission opportunities at Fort Huachuca.    

Increased Aircraft Important to Arizona: 
Procures 83 F-35s for the Air Force, an increase over last year to continue growing the F-35A fighter fleet whose pilots are trained at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. 
Fort Huachuca

  • Authorizes a demonstration of a new Western Range Complex that would connect multiple non-kinetic ranges for exercises in the region, including Fort Huachuca; 
  • Directs the Department of Defense (DoD) to renew focus on Electronic Warfare and Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations, which Fort Huachuca will play a central role in executing;   
  • Directs the Joint Chiefs of Staff and DoD Research & Engineering to examine capability gaps at electronic warfare ranges like Fort Huachuca; 
  • Directs the Army to provide an update on plans to complete the land conveyance between Fort Huachuca and the City of Sierra Vista which supports both municipal use and the Fort’s master plan;  
  • Supports partnerships between military health facilities and local hospitals and directs an independent study on opportunities to strengthen these partnerships in rural communities near military installations; 
  • Requires a review of the Army’s approach to planning for future aerial ISR missions, including training, with acknowledgment of Fort Huachuca’s proximity to Air Force electronic warfare and fighter assets and experience providing instruction in this mission area;      
  • Increases Impact Aid program funding, which benefits Arizona schools including the Fort Huachuca School District and Sierra Vista Public Schools. 

Luke Air Force Base 

  • Includes $2.6 million towards upgrading the Control Tower, Fire Station, and Base Operations Complex at a consolidated building at the Gila Bend Auxiliary Airfield, which is used by Luke AFB pilots for training; 
  • Pushes DOD to provide installations with necessary funds to deliver maintenance solutions at facilities like Luke AFB’s Munitions Storage Area; 
  • Acknowledges the Child Development Center (CDC) at Luke as a key site for increased construction funds in the next Air Force budget. 
  • Procures 48 F-35s for the Air Force, to continue growing the F-35A fighter fleet whose pilots are trained at Luke AFB.

Barry M. Goldwater Range

  • Extends the existing military land withdrawal for the Barry M. Goldwater Range, for an additional 25 years, to ensure continuous support for training in Arizona.

Yuma Proving Ground  

  • Continues support for construction of permanent U.S. Army Special Operations Command Military Free Fall School facilities at Yuma Proving Ground; 
  • Adds funding for the Radar Range Replacement Program (RRRP) to continue modernizing advanced test sites like Yuma Test Center at YPG. 

Marine Corps Air Station Yuma 

  • Advances the completion of planning and design for the upgraded water treatment plant at Marine Corps Air Station at Yuma. The Senators secured an expedited $5 million for planning and design in last year’s NDAA.

Camp Navajo 

  • Directs an assessment of the readiness benefits of improving bridge infrastructure at the base entrance;  
  • Requires DOD to review of their Strategic Rail Corridor Network (STRACNET) infrastructure on military installations, like Camp Navajo, to assess need for potential upgrades including to support contingencies in Europe and the Pacific. 

National Guard and Reserve Forces 

  • Requires a plan for modernizing Air National Guard fighter force structure in order to provide long-term planning for Air Force airpower and fighter squadrons like the 162nd Wing which flies F-16s in Tucson;
  • $15 million for the Army National Guard Readiness Center in Surprise;  
  • $12 million for Army Reserve Area Maintenance Support Activity facility in Queen Creek; 
  • $11.6 million for the Air National Guard to construct emergency defense infrastructure at the Tucson International Airport. 

Additional Arizona Priorities

  • Directs DOD to provide a comprehensive report to Congress on the prevalence of Valley fever, which is endemic to Arizona, in the military and its effect on military readiness to provide a better understanding the value of developing of a preventative Valley fever vaccine;
  • Extends the authorization for protection of certain facilities and assets from unmanned aircraft.
  • Clarifies that the National Guard has access to the Defense Environmental Restoration Program for the purposes of conducting environmental cleanup;
  • Directs a report on the proposed schedule and cost estimate for the completion of remediation activities associated with PFAS, and encourages the use of emergent, best available, and most effective PFAS treatment options.
  • Directs a briefing on the Army’s Degraded Visual Environment Pilotage System (DVEPS), including plans to incorporate DVEPS into the helicopter fleet.
  • Requires the creation of at least three new commercial solutions openings for emerging technologies and dual-use products and services each year, as well as a feasibility study and recommendations on ways to improve the acquisition of commercial products and services.
  • Directs a briefing on lessons learned from combatant command partnerships with private industry to better identify, leverage, and experiment with emerging capabilities and commercial technologies.
  • Authorizes the replacement of substandard enlisted barracks using various funding sources for five years. 
  • Requires that enlisted housing meets the same basic standards as all other military housing, both privatized and Government-owned.