HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Working its way through Congress, the Fiscal Year 2021 national defense bill includes a few measures that figure to have a significant impact on Hill Air Force Base.
The sweeping, nearly 2,000-page bill — which upon final approval from the House and Senate would authorize more than $740 billion to be spent on American defense programs — was approved last week by the House Armed Services Committee.
Most significantly, the bill funds the Department of Defense’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program, America’s next generation of nuclear deterrence, to the tune of $1.5 billion.
Headquartered at Hill, the GBSD program will replace the United States’ current land-based ballistic missile force, which is currently made up of some 400 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. The full program is estimated to cost more than $80 billion over its 30 year lifespan. The total cost includes the acquisition of missiles, new command and control systems, and large-scale renovations of launch control centers.
Currently being built up near Hill’s southwest border with Roy, the program will eventually include six new buildings with over 1 million square feet of office and lab facilities. In August 2019, Northrop Grumman broke ground on the Roy Innovation Center, which will serve as future headquarters for Northrop’s work supporting the program.
Late last year, Hill’s 75th Air Base Wing Commander Col. Jon Eberlan told members of the Utah Veterans and Military Affairs Commission that the program will be the largest source of growth across the base during the next several years.
Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, sits on the House Armed Services Committee and said the GBSD program is expected to bring as many as 4,000 new employees along with the construction of the new buildings.
“This legislation further strengthens and solidifies Hill Air Force Base as central to the Air Force mission,” Bishop said.
The 2021 NDAA also includes a measure that would remove the 180-day waiting period required of retiring military members wanting to compete for civil service jobs within the Pentagon and mandates a review of DOD “locality pay” requirements. According to the Worldwide Assurance for Employees of Public Agencies, the locality pay provision adjusts the base rate of pay for the cost of living in a geographic area.
Bishop said employees at Hill don’t currently receive a locality pay consistent with the ever-increasing cost of living along the Wasatch Front. He said the policies have “left critical vacancies (at Hill) unfilled.”
The Senate Armed Services Committee approved the 2021 NDAA in June. The bill eventually will be considered on the House and Senate floors before being sent the the president for final approval.