Recent Press Releases

Thune Praises Passage of National Defense Authorization Act

-Legislation Includes Authorization for Important South Dakota Projects -

September 29, 2008

Washington, D.C. —  On Saturday, September 27th the U.S. Senate passed the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009, which authorizes funding for the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy, including several South Dakota defense related projects. Senator Thune's statement on the bill follows:

"I am very pleased the House and Senate have passed this legislation before the end of the fiscal year because this bill is vital to the Department of Defense, both now and in the future. Most importantly, this legislation takes care of our men and women currently serving in the military and provides them the resources and authorities to provide for our nation's defense."

The bill provides a 3.9 percent across-the-board pay raise for all military personnel, a half a percent higher than the President's request, and enhances dental and medical benefits for the National Guard and Reserves. The bill also authorizes active duty end strengths for the Army and Marine Corps of 532,400 and 194,000, respectively, an increase of 7,000 soldiers and 5,000 marines from 2008 authorized levels. It also authorizes the DOD Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder/Traumatic Brain Injury (PTSD/TBI) Center of Excellence to expand programs to improve treatment and care for soldiers.

This legislation includes authorization for a number of important defense related projects for South Dakota. The bill includes $60.8 million in military construction projects authorized for South Dakota, including infrastructure improvement for Ellsworth Air Force Base and Camp Rapid in Rapid City, and Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls. Additionally, the legislation authorized $13 million for defense projects spearheaded by South Dakota State University, $8.9 million for projects directed by the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and $800,000 for a University of South Dakota defense related project.

The bill includes authorization for military equipment upgrades, including $206 million for the modernization and upgrade of B-1B bombers such as those at Ellsworth, and $33 million for National Guard acquisition programs, including upgrades for air-to-ground targeting pods and fire control computers like those used by the South Dakota Air National Guard F-16's at Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls.

"With the passage of this bill, I'm extremely pleased to see such a considerable investment in South Dakota's defense infrastructure and capabilities," added Thune. This investment helps guarantee the state will continue to play an important role in the future of our nation's defense."

Senator Thune is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and is the Ranking Republican Member on the Readiness and Management Subcommittee, which oversees military construction, training, logistics, maintenance, and installations.

The legislation has been sent to the President and will likely be signed into law before September 30, 2008; the end of the current fiscal year.