Heinrich Secures Major Gains For N.M. Military Installations, National Labs, High-Tech Manufacturing Economy In FY18 NDAA

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced provisions he secured in the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that support New Mexico's men and women in uniform, military installations, national laboratories, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), and job-creating initiatives throughout the state. The committee voted unanimously to report the bill yesterday and will now advance to the full Senate for consideration.

“I am proud to have authored a number of provisions in this year’s annual defense bill that make critical investments in New Mexico and strengthen our military bases, test ranges, and laboratories,” said Senator Heinrich. "This defense bill delivers important resources to welcome two additional F-16 training squadrons to New Mexico, provides full funding and reasserts the Senate Armed Services Committee’s strong support for the Plutonium mission at Los Alamos, and launches a significant directed energy program at the Pentagon that will bolster AFRL, industry, and jobs in the state. In addition, we successfully prevented another BRAC process.  These provisions, among many others, will benefit our economy and further New Mexico's strong position as a leader in national security for years to come.”

The NDAA sets the Department of Defense spending levels and policies for the upcoming fiscal year and authorizes funding for the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons programs at Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, as well as the Department of Energy's environmental cleanup programs including the WIPP.

The list including many of the programs and provisions Senator Heinrich advocated for during the bill writing process that were included in the NDAA is available as a PDF here and below: 


Holloman Air Force Base

$121 million to welcome 2 additional F-16 training units to Holloman Air Force Base.  The funding invests in live, virtual and constructive training ranges and ensures high quality and realistic training for our Holloman’s newest Airmen. The funding supports training ranges, squadron operations, flying hours, and base operations support to accommodate the additional aircraft and personnel.   

$4.25 million to build a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Fixed Ground Control Station Facility (FGCS).  An adequately sized and configured facility is required to accommodate the installation of 10 new Block 50 FGCS and supporting equipment into a single facility. The facility will house each FGCS in its own mission room and provide communications rooms for connectivity to each squadron operations center.

Cannon Air Force Base

$42 million to build new facilities for combat arms training and maintenance (CATM) and a new cargo pad area.  The cargo pad will be designed to support the loading and unloading of munitions simultaneously on two C-130s, or one C-5, C-17 or Boeing 747 aircraft.  Construction of the new cargo pad requires the relocation of the current CATM facilities. 

$8.228 million to build a new facility for Special Operations Forces C-130 Aircraft Ground Equipment (AGE).  The AGE is required on the southeast side of the base to maintain all assigned powered and non-powered aircraft support equipment. The AGE facility must support all assigned C-130 aircraft maintenance and 525 pieces of equipment.

New Mexico National Guard 

$8.6 million to build a new National Guard Readiness Center in Las Cruces.  Current facilities have inadequate space for soldiers and are causing unsafe conditions. Functional areas do not meet required facility occupancy limits to support more than 60 soldiers. The facilities have been neglected multiple times after a leaking roof caused flooding. The current facilities also do not have adequate cooling.

Kirtland Air Force Base 

$9.3 million to build a new fire station that will replace the undersized, deficient, and outdated fires station built in 1955.  The new fire station will include three high-bay drive-through apparatus stalls and will be capable of accommodating modern fire fighting vehicles and equipment.  The proposed location of the facility will better serve the southeastern part of Kirtland Air Force Base and reduce response time to critical high-value facilities including Kirtland's underground munitions storage complex and the mission-critical hot cargo aircraft loading pad.

Funding for New Mexico’s National Laboratories and Waste Isolation Pilot Plant 

Los Alamos National Laboratory Plutonium Mission

Heinrich supported full funding and reasserted the Senate Armed Service Committee’s strong support to maintain Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL) role as the nation’s Center of Excellence for Plutonium Research.  The bill authorizes $210 million—an increase of $25 million over fiscal year 2017—for plutonium research activities and an additional $181 million for construction related to replacing the outdated Chemistry and Metallurgy Research (CMR) building at LANL.  Heinrich also cosponsored an amendment offered by Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairwoman Deb Fischer, which reinforced the committee’s strong support for the plutonium mission at Los Alamos and urged NNSA to complete plans for additional facilities needed to fully implement the long-planned strategy at LANL.

NNSA Albuquerque Complex Project

Heinrich authorized $98 million to start construction of a new Albuquerque NNSA Complex on Eubank Blvd to replace the existing outdated and inadequate 50-year old facility.  The project is estimated to cost around $200 million and take about four years to complete. The new building will house up to 1,200 federal employees.

NNSA Employee Recruitment and Retention

Heinrich successfully passed an amendment by unanimous consent that makes permanent NNSA’s personnel management system that has been used successfully on a trial basis for the past 10 years.  The temporary personnel system has enhanced the recruitment and retention of federal employees of the Department of Energy’s NNSA.  NNSA needs to attract highly technical employees to manage critical national security programs, including about 800 based in New Mexico.  Key advantages of NNSA’s personnel system include helping attract and retain top talent by offering competitive salaries, reducing attrition rates, and properly rewarding high-performing employees.

Life Extension Programs

Heinrich supported full funding of $1.7 billion to continue the Life Extension Programs as executed by Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories.  The effort will maintain the existing weapons stockpile and assure safety and security. 

Los Alamos National Laboratory Environmental Cleanup 

The bill authorizes $191.6 million for soil and water remediation and removal of radioactive waste.  

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

The bill authorizes $323 million, an increase of $25 million over last year, to operate the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and to begin construction of additional ventilation for the mine.   The Secretary of Energy is directed to develop a strategic plan for disposing of all of the transuranic waste currently expected to go to WIPP.

Heinrich Provisions – New Mexico’s Defense R&D Labs, Test Ranges, and Industry

Directed Energy Weapons System Prototyping and Demonstration Program

Heinrich included language to establish a program at the Pentagon to accelerate the transition of directed energy weapon systems to the military.  Specifically, the provision authorizes $200 million to be used only for the purposes of prototyping and conducting demonstrations of high energy laser and high power microwave weapons systems that are beyond the beginning stages of basic and applied research.  The Heinrich provision also designates the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Development as the official with principal responsibility for development of directed energy weapons at the Pentagon and that the official works with the Joint Directed Energy Transition Office in executing the program. 

Heinrich has been the leader of directed energy weapon systems on the Senate Armed Services Committee and has argued for the potential of these systems as it relates to providing our military with new technologies that can offset the gains of adversaries such as intercepting inexpensive rockets, artillery, mortars, short and medium range ballistic missiles.

Joint Directed Energy Test Center, Transition Office 

Heinrich successfully passed an amendment by unanimous consent that directs the Director of Testing and Evaluation to review and update the 2009 report on White Sands’ High Energy Laser System Test Facility (HELSTF) and to identify infrastructure and personnel needs at the facility to accommodate the growth and maturity of directed energy weapon systems across the military services.  The committee issued its support for establishing a “Joint Directed Energy Test Center.”  Heinrich also included language ensuring that no less than an additional $5 million of the newly established Directed Energy Prototyping and Demonstration Program is provided to the Transition Office in New Mexico to carry out additional authorities and responsibilities, including the development of a Strategic Plan, pursuant to section 219 of Public Law (114-328).

Accelerated Hiring at Defense Labs at Test Ranges

Heinrich built off his work in previous years to accelerate hiring at defense laboratories by including language in the bill that designates additional Department of Defense science and technology reinvention laboratories as labs authorized to execute special hiring, infrastructure recapitalization, tech transfer and industry partnership, and research authorized by Congress.  The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate and the Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base are included within the nine labs listed for special hiring authority.  The language came as a result of a hearing on Defense Laboratories that Heinrich hosted as Ranking Member of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee. In May, Heinrich led a group of bipartisan senators in sending a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis calling for the implementation of new hiring authorities at Department of Defense labs and test ranges.

Accelerated Small Business Contracting at Defense Labs

Heinrich included language aimed at streamlining acquisition practices to support innovation at Department of Defense laboratories. Heinrich has heard from small businesses in New Mexico who have experienced significant delays, sometimes ranging from months to years, which make it nearly impossible for small business to plan and budget. Specifically, the language asks the Secretary of Defense to develop a set of recommendations for a pilot program that streamlines acquisition for defense laboratories.  The language came as a result of a hearing on defense laboratories that Heinrich hosted as Ranking Member of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee.

Modernizing Test Ranges

Heinrich secured an increase of $15 million in funding to improve test range capabilities to support the development of next generation weapon systems.  During hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Heinrich has expressed concern about the underinvestment in the nation’s test ranges and urged Army leadership for additional resources.  In particular, Heinrich accelerated the construction of a major project at White Sands Missile Range, the first testing construction project in 18 years.  In this year’s defense bill, Heinrich included an increase of $15 million to develop robust testing capabilities with modern instrumentation.  


Heinrich successfully passed an amendment restoring $25 million for the continuation of the STARBASE program that had received no funding in President Trump’s budget.  In New Mexico, the Department of Defense STARBASE program is hosted by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base and has served nearly 8,000 5th grade students.  STARBASE is a highly effective program run by our dedicated servicemembers and strengthens the relationships between the military, communities, and local school districts.  The program allows students to participate in a 25-hour hands-on curriculum where they solve scientific challenges related to aerospace.  Since its inception in 1991, over 825,000 students have benefitted from the STARBASE program, including 45,000 last year.

Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx)

Heinrich successfully passed an amendment by unanimous consent that urges the Department of Defense to expand the mission of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) to include new physical locations to post reservists similar to the model piloted in Austin, Texas, with a specific emphasis on evaluating locations that would allow a close collaboration with Department of Defense laboratories. DIUx was created to accelerate the adoption of private sector innovations by the Department of Defense. The services DIUx offers are important to accessing technological advances from nontraditional defense contractors, for whom the speed of defense contracting presents too great a hurdle to do business.  Heinrich and Udall have argued that New Mexico is a prime location for a future DIUx site. 

Heinrich Provisions - New Mexico Military Personnel

Addressing the Air Force’s Aircraft Maintenance Personnel Shortfall

Heinrich has raised concerns to the Air Force about the shortage of aircraft maintainers, particularly for the growing F-16 mission at Holloman Air Force Base.  Heinrich supported language in the bill that urges the Air Force to explore creative options, such as creating an aircraft maintainer training program pipeline, to help achieve the required level of aircraft maintenance personnel to accommodate the additional aircraft and personnel coming to Holloman.

Remotely Piloted Aircraft Community Challenges

Heinrich successfully passed an amendment by unanimous consent that raises concerns about the challenges personnel experience within the Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) community.  New Mexico is home to Holloman Air Force Base and Cannon Air Force Bases, which both have a significant RPA mission. Heinrich raised concerns about combat to dwell ratio and the lower promotion rates of RPA pilots.  Heinrich directed the Comptroller General of the United States to complete a report on the promotion rates of RPA pilots and sensor operators and to include recommendations for how to increase (a) the selection of RPA officers for intermediate developmental education programs, and (b) the number of billets assigned to RPA pilots and sensor operators in the Rated Staff Allocation Plan (RSAP) to proportions comparable to that of fighter pilots and other fields.

Joint Test and Training Operations Center

Heinrich included language commending the Army and the Air Force for establishing the Joint Test and Training Operations Center (JTTOC) at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR).  The JTTOC de-conflicts schedules between high-demand testing and training missions in the region.  The committee noted that the JTTOC has increased real-time capability and airspace availability, making more effective use of the ranges, restricted airspace, and other airspace units.  This is critical at a time when the Department of Defense is seeking to test next generation weapons and train additional fighter pilots.  The committee supports the progress made to-date and encourages the Army and Air Force to continue working together to create new efficiencies and optimize the use of WSMR’s zero-to-infinity airspace and surrounding airspace.

Greater Discretion to White Sands Missile Range for Family, Morale, Welfare, Recreation Programs

Heinrich successfully passed an amendment by unanimous consent that urges the Department of Defense to provide greater discretion to local commanders at remote and isolated installations in terms of decisions on what facilities and activities to keep open or to close since they know the installation’s needs and unique circumstances.  Specifically, Heinrich and the committee urged Installation Management Command (IMCOM) to consider adopting a funding model for family, morale, welfare, and recreation (FMWR) that accounts for revenue earned at an installation versus the performance of its individual enterprises, to allow services critical to the long-term well-being of remote and isolated installations to continue operating as long as the aggregate revenue remains a net positive. 

Restoration and Modernization Funds for White Sands Missile Range

Heinrich successfully passed an amendment by unanimous consent that raises the percentage of funds to be used to replace aging infrastructure at White Sands Missile Range.  Currently, Army installations receive a single pot of money for maintenance to be used as garrison commanders prioritize, but only 5 percent of that can be used for Restoration and Modernization (R&M), leaving little flexibility for older installations to replace and modernize infrastructure needed to be efficient and cost-effective.  The amendment increases the percentage from 5 percent to 7.5 percent.

Specialty Medical Care at Cannon Air Force Base 

Heinrich successfully passed an amendment by unanimous consent that directs the Pentagon to explore additional opportunities to develop military-civilian integrated health systems nearby remote and isolated military installations to provide a comprehensive range of primary and specialty medical care services for servicemembers and their families where they live and work.  Heinrich offered this amendment since military medical treatment facilities often refer Active-Duty servicemembers and their families for specialty care services that are only provided in large metropolitan areas.  As a result, the minimum travel time to and from a specialty care referral appointment can be five hours or more in remote locations like Cannon Air Force Base. 

Heinrich Provisions - New Mexico Military Energy Resilience

Energy Resilience for the Military

Heinrich authorized an increase of $10 million for a total of $48.4 million to address urgent concerns regarding energy resilience on military installations.  Specifically, Heinrich increased the Operational Energy Capability Improvement Fund (OECIF) and directed the Department of Defense to use the funding to address tactical microgrids and hybrid energy storage modules. 

Heinrich also included language that directs the Secretary of Defense to provide a summary of actions taken to pursue microgrid deployments through third party financing in the Department’s next Annual Energy Management Report. 

Heinrich has long been concerned regarding the vulnerabilities of cyber-attacks, physical attacks and severe weather, which threaten the military’s ability to recover from multi-day utility disruptions that impact mission assurance, including infrastructure beyond just task-critical assets, on its installations.  Heinrich also remains deeply concerned about the danger of transporting fuel. Too often, members of our armed forces and DoD contractors are subject to danger when required to transport fuel in combat environments; a 2009 Pentagon study reported that 2,400 civilian contractors have been killed or wounded while transporting truck fuel.  

Third Party Financing for Energy Projects

Heinrich included language urging the Department of Defense to use third-party financing mechanisms to take full advantage of private sector financing for renewable and distributed energy projects that improve installation resilience, increase readiness and mission assurance, and offer cost savings.  In addition, Heinrich directed the Secretary of Defense to provide a summary of actions taken to pursue microgrid deployments through third party financing in the Department’s next Annual Energy Management Report.   

Energy Efficient Billeting (BEAR Base)

Heinrich successfully passed an amendment by unanimous consent that encourages the Air Force to leverage currently available energy-saving supplemental insulation technologies that will lead to reduced environmental control units in a deployed environment, further leading to cost savings with respect to total cost of ownership of billeting and shelters in the Basic Expeditionary Airfield Resources (BEAR) Base program.  The BEAR Base program is headquartered at Holloman Air Force Base, which is supported by local industry in Las Cruces.  The amendment recommends that Air Force appropriate resources for more efficient medium shelters procured through the BEAR Base program. 

Crash Cleanup at White Sands National Monument

Heinrich successfully passed an amendment by unanimous consent to provide explicit authority for an agency or department to incur expenses or reimburse the direct costs for any service relevant to the cleanup of an air, ground, or sea vehicle crash or other accident when that event occurs on the property of another federal agency.  This amendment is in response to Holloman Air Force Base’s crash of a QF-4 on a heavily traveled part of White Sands National Monument on February 7, 2014.  While Holloman officials and Air Combat Command did its best to clean the site up to the maximum extent the Air Force believed to be allowed under the law within a few months of the crash, removal of smaller debris that could be hazardous to visitors and water testing was left in limbo for well over two years. 

Heinrich Provisions - New Mexico Space Missions

Operationally Responsive Space at Kirtland Air Force Base

Heinrich previously saved the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) mission from elimination and has consistently worked to increase funding for the continuation of ORS, which is a critical small satellite mission at Kirtland Air Force Base.  This year, Heinrich welcomed the Air Force’s re-commitment to the ORS mission and authorized a substantial increase in funding of $87.57 million in order to continue responsive space efforts including the building of a cloud characterization satellite for the military.

Space Test Program at Kirtland Air Force Base

Heinrich authorized $25.39 million for the Space Test Program at Kirtland Air Force Base.  Since 1965, the Space Test Program (STP) has conducted space test missions for the purpose of accelerating Department of Defense space technology transformation while lowering developmental risk.  STP serves as the primary access to space for the Department of Defense space science and technology community.  

Space Situational Awareness Commercial Solutions

Heinrich successfully passed an amendment by unanimous consent that supports funding of the Air Force’s unfunded requirement of $15 million to establish a commercial Space Situational Awareness Consortia / Testbed to help the Air Force field “best of breed” commercial space situational awareness capabilities.  Heinrich noted that the committee is concerned about the increasingly contested environment in space and believes that commercial solutions, in some cases, are available to rapidly fill critical operational gaps and mitigate emerging threats. 

Commercial Geospatial-Intelligence Imagery

Heinrich successfully passed an amendment by unanimous consent that directs the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to submit a report to the congressional defense committee and the House and Senate Select Intelligence Committees on acquiring new and non-traditional sources of geospatial-intelligence, including but not limited to new commercial satellite imagery.  Heinrich passed this amendment to support emerging commercial companies like Descartes Labs in Los Alamos and Planet Labs.    

Additional Heinrich Provisions

USS Los Alamos 

Heinrich successfully passed an amendment by unanimous consent that urges the Secretary of the Navy to name the next nuclear-powered submarine of the United States Navy “USS Los Alamos” to honor and recognize the contributions the residents of Los Alamos have made to the United States Navy.  Next year, 2018 will mark the 75th anniversary of Los Alamos National Laboratory, which has made enormous contributions to our national security for over 74 years.  Heinrich was proud to host a meeting between the USS Los Alamos Commissioning Committee and senior Navy leadership and Heinrich introduced a resolution urging the Secretary of the Navy to name the next U.S. Navy submarine the “USS Los Alamos.” 

Radiation Detection Technology

Heinrich successfully passed an amendment by unanimous consent that urges the Army to expedite and complete the fielding of modern radiation detection equipment.  The amendment seeks to address the Army’s critical remaining shortfall in existing radiation detection equipment and follows Heinrich’s recent announcement for Aquila to manufacture dosimeters for the National Guard.

National Guard Counterdrug Program

Heinrich has fought to ensure the New Mexico National Guard receives a better allocation of counterdrug funding from the National Guard.  Due to Heinrich’s insistence, the National Guard Bureau is currently undergoing an overhaul of its resource model to better align funding priorities, including the need to interdict drugs at the border. Language is included in the bill that requires (1) a description of how the National Guard Counterdrug Program aligns with the DOD overarching counter-narcotics objectives (2) a description of how the National Guard determines funding and distribution percentages for each state in the TBRM (3) An assessment of the extent to which funding for the National Guard program is expended in accordance with approved state plans and (4) an assessment of the extent to which the National Guard Counterdrug Program is achieving its stated objectives.