Senate to vote on National Defense bill, beef up missiles, icebreakers


The full Senate is expected to vote today on the National Defense Authorization Act, which has several provisions for Alaska, including authorization for up to six polar-class ice breakers and 28 additional ground-based missile interceptors, 14 of which could be based at Fort Greeley. There’s also funding for furthering an Arctic port.

“I spoke at the deployment ceremony of 425th as they headed to Afghanistan,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska. “I told them we have your back when you’re gone and this bill focuses on making sure we have the backs of our men and women.”

The bill helps rebuild the military, which was cut by nearly 24 percent during the Obama Administration, and it spends $700 million more to focus on readiness, Sullivan said, including increasing numbers of troops.

The authorizations are one thing. The appropriation process is where the last icebreaker authorizations were spiked. But Sullivan said he thinks there is a greater understanding of the need for them, and it’s bipartisan support.

The authorization came as an amendment in the Senate Armed Services Committee, which was offered by Sen. Sullivan earlier this year, as well as a request of the Government Accountability Office to study how to get the most bang for the buck for the icebreakers, which can cost $1 billion apiece.