U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn said the military spending bill set to be argued Wednesday has a lot for Colorado Springs to like: keeping C-21 jets flying at Peterson Air Force Base, potentially adding soldiers to Fort Carson and tripling the budget for the National Space Defense Center at Schriever Air Force Base.
The Republican from Colorado Springs is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, which is proposing $696.5 billion for the National Defense Authorization Act. That’s $28.5 billion more than President Trump’s request. The difference, coincidentally, is slightly less than the entire state budget for Colorado approved last month.
Last December, President Obama signed a $618.7 billion annual spending plan for the military.
House Armed Services Committee members, however, say the investment is vitally needed to rebuild the nation’s military might.
“It’s a win-win situation,” Lamborn told Colorado Politics. “The nation benefits from having a stronger national defense — more security for our country — when defense is fully funded. And because we have five major installations in the Pikes Peak area, and we have a whole host of defense industry companies that support the military, those additional dollars provide thousands and thousands of jobs, and (brings) billions of dollars into the Pikes Peak area.”
The Defense Department supports more than 40 percent of the Pikes Peak region’s economy.
The bill would add $2 billion for missile defense, which could prove a boon in many ways for the state’s engineering, technology and defense support industries.
It also would seek to next year add 17,000 more soldiers to the Army — 10,000 more in active duty, 4,000 more in the National Guard and 3,000 more in reserve duty, over the Obama administration’s plan, Lamborn said.
That could prove to be good news for Fort Carson to stay “on the forefront of Army as one of the leading bases in the country,” the congressman said.
The proposed bill also includes $105 million for the National Space Defense Center at Schriever Air Force Base to get the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies working together to prevent attacks from beyond.
“It’s scoping out how to deal with threats in space, and they’ve never really communicated, and they need to,” Lamborn said. “This is a huge priority and I’ve been pushing it every step of the way.”
The request triples the money for the program that was called the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center until it was renamed in April.
The two C-21 Learjets at Peterson, operated by the 200th Airlift Squadron, were on the Pentagon’s chopping block, Lamborn said.
“I think I’ve been able to stop them in their tracks,” he said.
The Air Force said the jets are used for “transporting the nation’s military and civilian leaders as well as time critical cargo during peacetime, war, and contingencies. The unit also supports special airlift taskings for the State of Colorado and the National Guard Bureau (NGB) as well as providing target support for air defense exercises.”
Also at Peterson, the National Museum of World War II Aviation could ratify its name by become a congressionally designated national museum under the bill, Lamborn said.
“It’s something that will help their profile and notoriety,” he said.