Mullin: Annual Defense Bill Secures Big Wins for Oklahoma Military

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is an annual national security bill that allows Congress to meet its constitutional duty to provide for the common defense. The annual must-pass legislation ensures America’s warfighters and Oklahoma’s installations have the training, equipment, and resources they need to remain the greatest fighting force in the world.

I am thrilled to report that Congress has passed this year’s NDAA, which will now head to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

The Fiscal Year 2024 NDAA authorizes a topline of $886.3 billion for military and national security programs at the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Energy.

It’s a privilege to serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee where we were able to secure major military investments and conservative priorities in this bill, including $152 million for Oklahoma’s military installations, plus another $122 million in funding for Oklahoma’s higher education aerospace programs and defense industry partners. Our five world-class installations are crucial to our nation’s military readiness, and this funding will provide the resources needed for their continued success.

Our military prowess would be nothing without the men and women who sacrifice their lives to defend our freedom. The annual defense bill includes a historic amount of support for our troops, including a 5.2 percent pay raise, compensation for anyone who re-enlists following an involuntary separation for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, and extended TRICARE benefits to families of deceased members of the Selected Reserve.

Additionally, the NDAA addresses Biden’s recruitment crisis, requiring the DOD to submit a revised pay table to increase junior enlisted pay as well as pay increases for reserve and veteran JROTC instructors. The bill also returns $400 million in savings from personnel decreases into new recruiting and retention efforts among other provisions.

As conflict and war rage in Eastern Europe and across the Middle East, this legislation confronts our adversaries with hard power and offers critical support to our allies. This year’s NDAA establishes a new U.S. training program with Taiwan and expands the current Pacific Deterrence Initiative in the Western Pacific to confront China head-on. It requires a full public accounting of Chinese military spending to ensure global transparency into the Chinese Communist Party’s military goals and authorizes a key sea-launched nuclear cruise missile program to offset Russian and Chinese tactical nukes, as well as the development of new nuclear gravity bombs to improve deterrence.

Joe Biden’s border crisis is a threat to our national security. This bill includes the FINISH IT Act to force the Biden administration to use leftover border wall panels from the Trump administration for border security purposes. The bill also requires the Pentagon to plan to counter cartels’ human and drug trafficking on the border as well as countering cartels in cyberspace. Finally, it includes provisions that encourage new homeland air defense protocols to avoid future violations of airspace.

America proudly stands with our ally Israel. This bill authorizes $200 million for U.S.-Israel missile defense programming and directs the Secretary of the Air Force to allot resources for Israeli pilot training as well as the transfer of U.S. aircraft to Israel. Additionally, this legislation prohibits the DOD from transferring funds to Iran, Iran’s terrorist proxies, and the Iran-backed jihadi Al-Badr Organization.

To maintain the resources needed to remain the greatest fighting force, this legislation adds six more critical munitions to the Pentagon’s highly successful multi-year procurement program, including Tomahawk and MK48 torpedoes and enhances oversight of energetics and missile component development, ensuring all weapons systems are planning for better explosives and propulsion. It also establishes the Office of Strategic Capital to enable private investment in defense tech and encourages more rapid development of artificial intelligence tools.

Lastly, I could not be more thrilled about the direct investments we were able to bring home for Oklahoma.

Within the $152 million secured for our state, Fort Sill received $76.65 million for their Microgrid and Backup Power project. Vance Air Force Base (AFB) received $8.4 million for the Consolidated Undergraduate Pilot Training Center planning and design and McAlester Army Ammunition Plant received $1.194 million for their new Water Treatment Plant planning and design. Additionally, Tinker AFB received $58 million for the 3-Bay KC-46 Depot Maintenance Hangar and $5.8 million for their Aircraft Oxygen Shop.

Oklahoma plays a critical role in maintaining our nation’s military readiness, and I am extremely proud of the direct investments we secured in the NDAA to strengthen Oklahoma’s military legacy.

I want to thank Ranking Member Senator Roger Wicker as well as my colleagues on the Armed Services Committee for their efforts, and for working with us to ensure Oklahoma’s needs are met. Defense authorizations and associated funding are a responsibility I do not take lightly, and I am proud of the progress made with this year’s bill. May God continue to bless our troops and our great nation.