December 12, 2017 In The News

Trump just protected N.J.’s big military base

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Legislation setting U.S. defense policy, including protections for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, was signed into law Tuesday by President Donald Trump.

The $692 billion National Defense Authorization Act, which sets Congress’ defense priorities through Sept. 30, rejects Trump’s requestfor a new round of base closings.

“I’m grateful the president has signed the defense bill into law, which will keep America safer as well as securing the future of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and thousands of New Jersey jobs,” said Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-3rd Dist., whose district includes the joint base.

“I feel optimistic about the future of our base,” said Rep. Donald Norcross, D-1st Dist.

The legislation calls for funding 17 KC-46A refueling tankers to replace the KC-10s now housed at the joint base, and $146.5 million for new construction there, primarily for hangars needed to house the new planes.

The Air Force announced in January that the joint base’s 305th Air Mobility Wing eventually would house 24 of the new KC-46A tankers by 2021.

“These tankers will ensure Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst remains our nation’s premier air mobility installation and protects the livelihood of the over 42,000 New Jerseyans who are employed at the base,” MacArthur said.

New Jersey officials had expressed concern that a new round of base closings could have targeted the facility the way McGuire Air Force Base was more than two decades ago.

“I feel optimistic about the future of our base,” said Rep. Donald Norcross, D-1st Dist., a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

The law continues research on drones involving the Federal Aviation Administration and the Defense Department. That research is conducted at the FAA Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township.

And it provides for modern radar systems for National Guard forces flying the F-16 aircraft, including New Jersey’s 177th Fighter Wing.

“Through this legislation and over the next year, I will continue to work with the men and women at the 177th to ensure they have all the resources they need to successfully complete their vital homeland security mission,” said Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd Dist., who also sits on the Armed Services Committee.

Trump held a signing ceremony at the White House a day after a failed terrorist attack targeted the New York City subway system.

“This legislation represents a momentous step toward rebuilding our military and securing the future for our children,” Trump said. “This legislation will enhance our readiness, expand our modernized — and modernize our forces, and help provide our service members with the tools that they need to fight and to win,” he said.