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House Armed Services Committee’s $778B defense bill includes improvements for National Guard

U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele said the annual fiscal 2022 defense bill passed by the House Armed Services Committee today includes multiple provisions for the National Guard — including the establishment of a Space National Guard as a reserve component of the U.S. Space Force — as well as a feasibility study for the establishment of a Hawaii Air Guard aeromedical squadron at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Also part of the legislation is a requirement for a Navy update on reestablishing daily access for Defense Department personnel to Lualualei Naval Road/Kolekole Pass, and Army requirement to report on options to establish a water utility cooperative at Dillingham Airfield and determination of whether excess land there could be returned to the state.

The ongoing need by the state Department of Transportation to oversee a water system at Dillingham that serves a wider community, including the nearby Air Force tracking station, has been one sticking point in ongoing state management of the airfield that’s a mecca for sky divers.

The House Armed Services Committee, of which Kahele is a member, passed a $778 billion 2022 National Defense Authorization Act that’s about $24 billion above the Biden’s administration’s proposed budget — the result of an amendment by U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., the lead Republican on the committee.

“The bipartisan adoption of my amendment sends a clear signal: the president’s budget submission was wholly inadequate to keep pace with a rising China and re-emerging Russia,” Rogers said in a release. “I hope this bipartisan, and now bicameral, move is understood by the Biden-Harris administration.”

According to the Washington Examiner, more than $10 billion of the additional funding would go toward:

>> $1.5 billion for an extra guided-missile destroyer.

>> $1.2 billion for an additional amphibious assault ship.

>> $567 million to help expand procurement to three Virginia-class submarines per year.

>> $394 million for four additional KC-130J cargo aircraft.

>> $340 million for two additional P-8 Poseidon maritime aircraft.

>> $350 million for missiles and ammunition.

The NDAA bill passed by the committee, which sets policy with funding levels, now heads to the House floor.

“Hawaii plays a critical role in supporting our national defense strategy in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have the privilege to help strengthen our national security and the responsibility to ensure locally-important projects are reflected in the NDAA,” Kahele, a Hawaii Democrat and lieutenant colonel in the Hawaii Air National Guard, said in a release.

Kahele pointed to several other sections of the bill, including:

>> A requirement for the secretary of the Air Force, in consultation with the chief of the National Guard Bureau and the director of the Air National Guard, to conduct a feasibility study on establishing a permanent Air Force “associate” flying unit on Guam to include the Guam Air National Guard.

>> The “1095 Rule” Amendment Act which strengthens the National Guard and Reserve by increasing the maximum number of days reservists can serve on active duty from 1,095 days out of 1,460 days to 1,825 days out of 2,190 days.

>> The National Guard and Reserve Incentive Pay and Parity Act which requires the military to provide Reserve and National Guard service members incentive and special duty pay at the same rate as their active-duty counterparts.

“Current legislation caps the amount of pay that members of the National Guard and Reserves receive to a fraction of what those on active duty receive,” Kahele’s office said in the release. “The National Guard and Reserve Incentive Pay and Parity Act requires equal pay for equal proficiency.”

>> Hawaii Infrastructure Readiness Initiative provision to direct the secretary of the Army to provide a report to the House and Senate Committees on Armed Services by March 1 laying out a detailed plan for infrastructure formerly covered by the initiative that addresses major facility and infrastructure deficiencies.

The examination would encompass aviation maintenance facilities, operations facilities and tactical equipment maintenance facilities, and include Pohakuloa Training Area and the West Loch Ammunition Storage.

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