$886 billion National Defense Authorization Act to benefit Mississippi

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President Joe Biden signed a record $886 billion defense bill into law on Friday with a portion of the legislation going to support Mississippi’s role within the nation’s armed forces.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), championed by U.S. Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, will benefit all parts of the state, including the shipping industry along the Gulf Coast and Air Force bases in the central and southern regions.

“It has been a great honor to oversee the NDAA as the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee and work to enact policies that help Mississippi and protect our military,” Wicker said. “Enemies of freedom are growing more dangerous and capable by the day.”

Of the provisions included in the NDAA that benefit Mississippi directly, Wicker released the following list:

Gulf Coast
  • Authorizes more than $1 billion in funding to procure the San Antonio-class Amphibious warship, LPD-33, which would be constructed by Huntington Ingalls in Pascagoula.
  • Adds $72 million for the procurement of another APL-67 class of berthing barge, which would be constructed at Bollinger Shipyards in Pascagoula.
  • Boosts Columbia-class submarine full-scale shaft procurement at Seemann Composites in Gulfport.
  • Secures $6 million for continued operation of the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School (NAVSCIATTS) in Hancock County.
  • Authorizes $2 million for planning and design to build a new air traffic control tower at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi.
  • Authorizes $5 million for aluminum-lithium alloy solid rocket motors, supporting work in McHenry.
  • Urges the Office of Naval Research to partner with public universities on optoelectronic technology related to solar cells. Research on this matter is already being conducted at the University of Southern Mississippi and would secure microelectronic manufacturing jobs in the state.
  • Authorizes $2.2 million for rail loading capacity and railcar storage improvements at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg.
  • Authorizes another $5.4 million to complete a Maneuver Area Training Equipment site at Camp Shelby.
  • Authorizes $8 million for various autonomous surface and underwater vessels, supporting work for multiple companies in Gulfport.
Central Mississippi
  • Adds $8 million to construct a fire and crash rescue site for the 172nd Air Wing at the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers airport in Jackson.
  • Adds $3 million in funding to support research on pavement repair materials for military missions, affecting the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg.
  • Includes language to accelerate Pentagon efforts to partner with industry on bioprocessing for rare earths and critical minerals, supporting existing work at ERDC in Vicksburg.
  • Authorizes nearly $2.2 million for an Army Aviation Support Facility in Meridian.
North Mississippi
  • Authorizes $33 million for the construction of a combat readiness center for the MS Army National Guard in Southaven.
  • Authorizes $30 million to begin work on a ground-based training system facility for T-7A aircraft at Columbus Air Force Base.
  • Adds $9.5 million for a T-7A Unit Maintenance Training Facility at Columbus Air Force Base.
  • Authorizes $5 million in funding to support artificial intelligence and machine learning applications to tactical warfare, supporting work being done in Starkville, in consultation with Mississippi State University.
  • Prohibits retirement of T-1A training aircraft until the new undergraduate pilot training program is certified to be as effective as the previous program at Columbus Air Force Base, protecting jobs on site.
  • Mandates a Pentagon report evaluating the long-term sustainment, research and development, and procurement plan for (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) MRAP vehicles, which are built by Navistar Defense in West Point.

Biden’s signature makes for the sixth decade in a row that Congress has passed the NDAA. From a global perspective, this year’s bill allows the U.S. to support Ukraine through 2027 amid its war with Russia. Additionally, the legislation says the U.S. can work with Israel to research and test “anti-tunnel capabilities” through 2026 and authorizes funding to help the Middle East country intercept enemy rockets and missiles as fighting with Hamas continues.

Of interest to many Americans is a provision that gives troops a 5.2 percent pay increase. Lawmakers were also able to use the NDAA to begin implementing the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act, which bars foreign officials from requesting or taking a bribe from an American or an American company.

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