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Defense bills would bring high-tech training systems to Alaska

Posted: Sunday, June 18, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base should get two new high-tech training systems this year.

The Senate earlier this week passed a $287 billion defense appropriations bill after the House passed a similar version. The two bills now must go to committee to work out the differences.

The Senate bill provides $20 million for an electronic warfare training system at Eielson. The ''unmanned threat emitter system'' will help tactical and strategic air crew training, according to Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.

The system slated for Fort Wainwright is called the ''multiple integrated laser equipment system,'' or MILES. The $7 million system would create a ''technologically advanced training site for Northern Edge and other joint military exercises,'' Stevens' office said in a news release.

Stevens is chairman of both the Senate Appropriations Committee and the subcommittee that creates the defense spending bill.

Fort Wainwright and Eielson would also benefit from $10 million of repairs to their aging utility systems. The work is part of a phased-in replacement program that will eventually create a network of concrete tunnels to contain the various utility distribution systems, Stevens said.

Fort Greely, the base near Delta Junction scheduled for closure, would see $7 million in airfield work to help find new uses for the base.

Sevens said the Department of Defense service and construction projects in Alaska would be subject to a local hire provision. About $10 million would be targeted to hire Natives for defense cleanup projects.

A number of non-military organizations in Interior and Northern Alaska would carry out work funded by the defense appropriations bill.

The University of Alaska would see $8 million for weather research that would help the armed forces predict effects on military operations and equipment. The university would also receive a portion of the $20 million spent on a Defense Department ''experimental program to stimulate competitive research.''

The Galena School District would receive $4 million for a pilot program to support the cost of serving military students who leave Alaska but want to continue with Galena's on-line correspondence school.

The North Slope Borough would receive $7 million for the ''iodine testing provision,'' according to Stevens' office. Native people were injected with low-level radioactive iodine during military-led medical experiments conducted mid-20th century. The long-term effects of such injections are being investigated.

The bill would spend about $139 million on national missile defense research. While that research isn't conducted in Alaska, the delegation hopes the $60 billion missile system will be based in the state.

The bill also approves a 3.7 percent pay raise for military personnel nationwide.

The Senate version also carries almost $300 million for research into breast, prostate and ovarian cancers.

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