Small Arms Training, Alaskan Missile Field: DoD Details Projects Funded by Border Wall Cancellation

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Army Corps of Engineers contractors install the final border wall panel near Yuma.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers South Pacific Border District contractors install the final panel at the Yuma 10/27 Border Barrier project near Yuma, Arizona, Dec. 21, 2020. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Robert DeDeaux)

The Defense Department on Friday detailed how it plans to spend nearly $2.2 billion it recovered after canceling border wall construction projects that the Trump administration funded with money diverted from military projects.

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks included the plans in a memo dated Thursday, formalizing the Pentagon's intentions to redirect the money to 66 military projects in 16 countries, 11 states and three territories.

The unobligated money the DoD was able to recover is a fraction of what had been steered toward the border wall. ABC News reported in April that a Biden administration official said that amounted to more than $14 billion.

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The bulk of the recovered money -- nearly $1.3 billion -- will go to projects at overseas bases, including more than $125 million to replace elementary schools at Robinson Barracks and Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, and nearly $135 million for Bechtel Elementary School and Kinnick High School in Japan.

Other overseas projects include $70 million for an air traffic control terminal at the Army's garrison on Kwajalein Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands; $66 million for upgrades to a taxiway and apron the Navy uses for P-8A Poseidon aircraft in Italy; and $53 million for an electrical system upgrade for Navy facilities on Bahrain Island.

Projects for military facilities in the U.S. territories of Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands will get more than $608 million. Among those projects, an aircraft maintenance hangar used by the Puerto Rico National Guard will receive $64 million, and the National Guard Readiness Center in Puerto Rico will get $50 million. The Air Force's munitions storage igloos on Guam will get $28.6 million, the memo states.

Stateside bases will receive almost $300 million, including funds for roads, maintenance facilities for Navy ships and piers, fire stations and a dining facility, among others.

Fort Greely in Alaska will get $10 million in funding for a missile field expansion to add two interceptors intended to stop a North Korean attack, the Office of Management and Budget said in a release. And an Air National Guard facility in Indiana will get $9.4 million for a small-arms range to improve marksmanship training.

In a press briefing with reporters, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said that the Trump administration had canceled 123 military projects to redirect funds to the border wall.

He added that the Pentagon consulted with the services and operational commanders before restoring funding to projects to make sure that requirements had not changed.

"We did this all across the department to make sure that we chose those carefully," he said.

Hicks canceled spending on the border wall in an April 30 memo, ordering the Army to end all border barrier construction projects, give up lands that the Interior Department set aside for those projects, and transfer jurisdiction of those properties to the Homeland Security Department.

She also told Homeland Security that the DoD would not build any more fences, roads or lighting installations at the southern border under Section 284 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code, which can be used to authorize the military to perform such functions to support civilian law enforcement agencies as they block drug smuggling corridors across the border.

"Canceling Section 284 border barrier projects is consistent with the President's determination that 'building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution' to the security challenges at the southern border," Hicks said in the April memo.

-- Stephen Losey can be reached at stephen.losey@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StephenLosey.

Related: Pentagon Cancels Border Wall Projects, Will Recover Funding Diverted by Trump

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