Funding bill won't affect new construction at Fort Bragg

More than $202 million in new construction on Fort Bragg is unaffected a by defense funding bill compromise presented by House and Senate leaders.

Overall, the proposed 2014 National Defense Authorization Act would provide $552.1 billion in funding for national defense and an additional $80.7 billion for the war in Afghanistan.

The compromise bill was released late Tuesday and is pending approval by the larger Congress, with some doubting whether it will be approved by the end of the year.

The House is set to adjourn for the month on Friday, and the Senate is scheduled to do the same next week.

The Fort Bragg portion of the bill includes nearly $202.5 million in construction, the same amount in President Obama's 2014 defense budget when it was proposed in April.

Most of the funding - $135 million - is earmarked for Fort Bragg's special operations forces.

The Fort Bragg funding includes:

$5.9 million for a command and control facility for the 18th Airborne Corps

$24.5 million for a new home for Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command

$37 million to build a new elementary school in the Linden Oaks community

$37.7 million to build a battalion annex for the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade

$7.6 million for a combat medical skills sustainment course building for the Joint Special Operations Medical Training Center

$10.4 million for an engineer training facility for the 1st Special Warfare Training Group

$64.6 million for a language and cultural center for the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School

$14.7 million to upgrade a special operations training facility at Camp Mackall

The projects are scheduled for completion between September 2015 and June 2016, according to officials.

If approved, the construction will be valued at slightly more than the $198 million approved in last year's defense budget, but far below past years, when Fort Bragg benefited from a building boom related to the 2005 base realignment and closure, or BRAC.

Some of that BRAC-related construction is ongoing, fueling more than $860 million in construction projects underway at Fort Bragg, post officials said last month.

Greg Bean, Fort Bragg's director of public works, said building space on post will have ballooned from roughly 30 million square feet to a projected 52.4 million square feet by next year.

Fort Bragg, officials said, is the nation's largest military installation by building space and population.

Recently, Department of Defense officials had called for an additional round of base realignment and closure, but that proposal has been unpopular with many in Congress.

The 2014 NDAA includes a section that specifically forbids another BRAC round. Section 2711 reads, "Nothing in this act shall be construed to authorize an additional Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round."

The compromise bill also includes provisions to use gender-neutral standards to determine military specialties, expands religious freedom provisions for chaplains, bars the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and makes more than 30 reforms to the Uniform Code of Military Justice related to sexual assault.

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