U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) today said the Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Appropriations bill that was passed by the Senate includes a 3.5 percent soldier pay raise and $59.9 million for Tennessee military projects.
“This bill will provide our soldiers with the training, equipment and protection they deserve as they continue to keep us safe,” said Alexander, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “As these men and women in uniform continue to invest in our country we must continue to invest in them and this bill does that with its much-deserved 3.5 percent pay raise. It also commits over $40 million specifically for the Tennessee National Guard for training, upgraded equipment and counter-drug programs.”
“I am very pleased that this important bill has moved through the Senate so quickly with strong bipartisan support,” said Corker, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It gives our men and women in uniform the equipment they need to protect our country, provides them a much needed pay raise, and includes important equipment upgrades for our Tennessee National Guard.”
The $448 billion bill provides funding for troops and equipment for the war in Iraq, including body armor and up-armored vehicles. It provides funding for military activities of the Department of Defense, funding for operation and maintenance of weapons and facilities, weapons procurement and research and development. It does not include funding for continuing operations in Iraq, which will be considered at a later date in a supplemental appropriations bill specifically for that purpose.
Included in the bill is $59.9 million for military priorities in Tennessee, including:
-$9 million for the Tennessee National Guard to Up-Armor Humvees and Tactical Truck Crew Trainers. With increased accidents involving the Up-Armored Humvees in combat and security operations, additional truck crew trainers are needed for the Army National Guard.
-$3 million for the Army National Guard to continue a battery modernization program to achieve longer life and lighter weight batteries that are used in the field.
-$6 million for the Army National Guard for the Combined Arms Virtual Trainers operating system for the Tennessee National Guard.
-$1.2 million at Fort Campbell for the development and research of zero energy homes. This project will apply energy production and conservation technologies to the construction of a new development at Fort Campbell.
-$3.6 million for the Tennessee National Guard to provide IVHMS systems for UH-60 helicopter. The technology enables the Guard to proactively plan maintenance based on the usage and condition of parts with-in a helicopter’s critical systems.
-$2.4 million for the Holston Army Ammunition Plant to establish a Thermobaric Extruder Facility to develop programs using the latest technology for ammunition production.
-$5 million for the Tennessee National Guard to provide Tabletop Trainers, which are vital in training Army National Guard soldiers in Counter IED, Convoy, Gunnery and Maneuver training.
-$4 million for the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area for the Tennessee Army National Guard. Tennessee ranks among the top marijuana and methamphetamine producing states in the nation, and the Tennessee Army National Guard has successfully stopped production in many areas of rural Appalachia. These funds will expand eradication efforts and sustain ongoing enforcement activities.
-$6 million for the Tennessee National Guard to provide helicopter door gunner training. The current Contemporary Operational Environments of Iraq and Afghanistan, National Guard air crews again require this training.
-$4.2 million for the Tennessee National Guard to convert the Army Field Artillery Tactical Data Systems' software from the UNIX Operating System to Windows Operating System.
-$3 million for the Medical Free Electron Laser at Vanderbilt University. This important research initiative will enhance the military’s medical programs through partnerships with major research universities.
-$5 million for the Air Force Minority Leaders Program. Tennessee State University is part of a university led consortium to advance materials and sensor technology development for the Air Force.
-$5 million for the Army to purchase Lightweight Maintenance Enclosures for support to vehicle maintenance activities in theatre operations.
The Senate passed the bill by voice vote. It must now go to conference with the House’s version of the bill.