Sen. Martin Heinrich/Courtesy photo
FROM THE OFFICE OF SEN. MARTIN HEINRICH
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich voted Thursday to pass the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that supports New Mexico’s men and women in uniform, military installations, national laboratories, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), Artificial Intelligence, and job-creating initiatives throughout the state.
The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 86-8.
Heinrich, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Ranking Member of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, secured a number of provisions to strengthen New Mexico’s military installations, national laboratories, economic development, and leadership in the future of technologies like Artificial Intelligence, directed energy, and space.
“I am proud to have authorized funding for military construction projects that will modernize infrastructure at Holloman Air Force Base, White Sands Missile Range, and Kirtland Air Force Base,” Heinrich said. “This bill makes major investments to ensure our Armed Forces are equipped with the most modern technology so we can stay ahead of our adversaries. New Mexico is the Center of Excellence for small satellites and for directed energy weapons, and this bill increases funding and streamlines authorities to bolster those missions. This bill also makes major reforms to fix the military housing crisis and takes meaningful action on contamination at dairies outside Cannon Air Force Base.”
As the co-founder of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus, Heinrich added, “I am also proud to have incorporated language from the Armed Forces Digital Advantage Act to modernize defense workforces with digital engineers, specialized in computer science, and to have increased funding for Artificial Intelligence. These provisions, among many others, help New Mexico families, benefit our economy, and further New Mexico’s strong position as a leader in national security for years to come.”
The NDAA sets the Department of Defense spending levels and policies for the upcoming fiscal year and authorizes funding for the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons programs at Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, as well as the Department of Energy’s environmental cleanup programs including the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).
A list of many of the programs and provisions Senator Heinrich advocated for during the bill writing process that were included in the FY20 NDAA is available as a PDF HERE and below.
New Mexico Military Construction Projects
Kirtland Air Force Base
Senator Heinrich secured $15.5 million for the construction of a Combat Rescue Helicopter Simulator Facility at Kirtland Air Force Base. This facility will house new HH-60W simulators, training spaces, and equipment used by the 58th Special Operations Wing to train new students. This construction will allow for a seamless transition from the HH-60G legacy aircraft, to the new HH-60W and provide continuous Programmed Flight Training for its operators.
Senator Heinrich secured $22.4 million for the construction of a UH-1 Replacement Facility at Kirtland Air Force Base. This facility will house new simulators used for training flight crew personnel in the UH-1 replacement aircraft set for delivery to the 58th Special Operations Wing starting at the end of FY 2022. This construction will allow for an on-time delivery of the simulators, and critical training in the new aircraft.
Holloman Air Force Base
Senator Heinrich secured $20 million for the construction of a climate-controlled, storage and shipment facility at Holloman Air Force Base. The facility will be used to store, inspect, and prepare the movement of military support equipment and provide maximum protection of our expeditionary, warfighting resources. This will enable assets to be maintained in a constant state of readiness and postured for worldwide deployment with greatly reduced maintenance costs. The use of this facility will save the government $800,000 annually for the maintenance and/or replacement of these assets by preserving the shelf-life of items otherwise stored in the open; as well as save $120,000 a year in replacement costs of shipping containers damaged by exposure to weather.
White Sands Missile Range (WSMR)
Senator Heinrich secured $5.8 million to build a micro-grid at White Sands. The micro-grid will utilize a solar array, natural gas generator, and lithium ion battery system to power water wells to provide an uninterrupted water supply to WSMR. Currently, the wells are connected in such a way that leaves them susceptible to power outages that could leave WSMR without drinkable potable water. This micro-grid system will ensure a reliable supply of water for the installation.
White Sands Missile Range Land Enhancements and White Sands National Park
The Senate Armed Services Committee adopted an amendment by Senator Heinrich that incorporates legislation to, amongst other things, finalize updated land exchanges between the Department of the Interior and the Department of the Army that have been pending since the 1970s. The exchange of parcels between White Sands National Monument and White Sands Missile Range will clean up boundary anomalies, transfer important missile range infrastructure to the jurisdiction of the Army, and provide increased opportunities for visitors at the National Monument. The bill was developed in close consultation with the Army, the Air Force, the National Park Service, local elected officials, neighboring tribes, and local residents.
New Mexico Air National Guard
The Senate Armed Services Committee included language that requests the Secretary of the Air Force, in consultation with the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, to report back to the committee within 60 days to present options for achieving an operational flying mission in states currently without ownership of aircraft.
New Mexico is one of three states – New Mexico, Virginia, and Washington – that have an operational flying mission, but due to the classic associate construct they lack ownership of aircraft. The Air National Guard enterprise is based on established Capstone Principles that notionally set the foundational framework for mission allocation in the 54 states and territories. One of those Capstone Principles is to allocate at least one unit-equipped wing