NDAA2024 raises funding for Pacific Deterrence Initiative against China
Military spending bill includes $500M for Guam missile defense system
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
The $886 billion defense spending policy for fiscal year 2024 authorizes $9.7 billion to expand the Pacific Deterrence Initiative which seeks to enhance the United States' defense posture in the Indo-Pacific region where it faces a rabid military competition with China.
The amount represents an increase of $600 million over President Biden’s budget request, according to Rep, Ed Case of Hawaii.
The 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week, includes $500 million for the continuing development of a missile defense system for Guam.
Last year, the Missile Defense Agency awarded a $527.7 million contract to Lockheed Martin to develop Guam’s air and ground missile defense system, which is anticipated to be delivered in 2024.
According to MDA's Dec. 28 announcement, an initial obligation of $11.4 million will tap the fiscal year 2023 appropriation for research, development, testing and evaluation.
“The Pacific Deterrence Initiative is an instrumental part of our nation’s integrated deterrence in the Indo-Pacific and highlights key elements and investments needed to maintain our competitive advantage and lays the foundation that will be indispensable to our efforts for decades to come,” Case said, noting that Hawaii plays a central role in the national defense strategy in the region.
According to the Department of Defense's budget proposal, the investments under the initiative support the military's effort "to prioritize China as its preeminent pacing challenge." Its goal is to "develop capabilities, operational concepts, and planning to strengthen deterrence" against the People’s Liberation Army.
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For Hawaii, the bill authorizes more than $1.5 billion in military construction projects, including Case’s request for an additional $5.4 million to begin the construction of a new air traffic control tower at Wheeler Army Airfield as the existing control tower no longer meets the current operational and safety requirements for airfield operations.
“The value of this project extends beyond the critical operations of Wheeler Army Airfield to the local community and the Island of O‘ahu,” Case said. “This tower also monitors and supports surrounding commercial and recreational airspace operations to ensure smooth transitions in and around the airspace associated with the installation.”
The bill includes a 5.2 percent pay raise for defense employees in addition to a monthly bonus for junior enlisted service members and restores basic allowance for housing levels to 100 percent. The housing allowance has been taken out of the calculation of the basic needs allowance.
The bill also authorizes $50 million to assist local schools with military dependent students and $20 million for local educational agencies that support eligible children with severe disabilities.
However, Case has reservations about the bill's final version.
“I could not support the overall measure in its final form as proposed for full House passage,” Case said.
“Unfortunately, and even tragically, as the annual NDAA has been one of the last bastions of nonpartisanship in a divided Congress, the majority chose to adopt poison pill amendments on national culture war issueswhich have no place in our nationaldefense and in a bill which should be focused on national security matters. I sincerely hope those provisions are removed along the further progress of this otherwise- worthy bill and that I can vote yes on final passage.”