U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today announced the inclusion of a 3.5 percent soldier pay raise and $59.9 million for Tennessee military priorities in the Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Appropriations bill that passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.
“This bill invests in next generation technology that will give our troops the equipment and protection that they deserve,” said Alexander. “These dollars will improve battlefield protection, bolster training through cutting edge innovations, and invest in the safety of our service members by spending the dollars needed on health care and vehicle maintenance. Just as important is the much-needed 3.5 percent pay raise for these brave men and women, and as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will always work to support our armed forces.”
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.
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.
-$2.4 million for the Holston Army Ammunition Plant to establish a Thermobaric Extruder Facility to produce materials for development programs using the U.S. Army Twin Screw Extrustion technology.
-$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.
-$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.
This bill must now go before the full Senate for consideration.