National defense spending bill includes Arctic military operations

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Senate Armed Services Committee passed new bipartisan legislation, authorizing $750 billion in defense spending for Fiscal Year 2020.

According to a press release from Sen. Dan Sullivan's office, the bill includes 30 provisions and amendments that will directly impact Alaska. This includes advancing military capabilities in the Arctic, strengthening and improving our missile defense system, and boosting military installations.

“This defense authorization includes a number of important initiatives including the requirement to designate sites for a Strategic Arctic Port," Sullivan wrote. "This important step helps demonstrate increased U.S. interest in an area of the world that has become a strategic chokepoint for competition among the great powers.”

Another provision included in the bill is for Arctic Mass Casualty Planning. This requires the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop a plan for carrying out mass-casualty disaster response in the Arctic, to help prevent challenges like those the Norwegian government encountered as it attempted to rescue over 1,000 passengers from a cruise ship earlier this year.

Another aspect of the 2020 NDAA includes language from a stand-alone bill Sullivan introduced, the Creig Sharp Funeral Honors for Veterans Act, to provide full military funeral honors to all veterans that request it, and require installation commanders to have a plan to use off-base services if resources are lacking.

[RELATED: Navy widow's campaign for full honor burials starts in Alaska]

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