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Idaho in the Vanguard

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Idaho in the vanguard
by Senator Larry Craig

A few weeks ago, I was able to visit with 400 Idaho National Guardsmen at Gowen Field as they boarded planes for Fort Bliss, Texas. While there, they will prepare for their deployment to Iraq. For many of the young men and women saying goodbye to their loved ones that day, it was an emotional experience. Those individuals heading off to war will make a tremendous contribution to the freedom of millions of Iraqis, as well as all Americans. However, Idahoans left behind are also making important contributions to the cause of freedom.

With the recent passage of the FY 2005 Defense Appropriations bill, a strong number of Idaho businesses and institutions will receive funding for projects that are important to maintaining the technological edge of our nation's defense.

In Boise, the Idaho Air National Guard will be receiving $1.4 million to prepare for the SENIOR SCOUT intelligence mission. SENIOR SCOUT is an intelligence gathering platform that fits into the back of a C-130E or C-130H. Our planes that carry SENIOR SCOUT will truly be at the forefront of intelligence-gathering and the war on terrorism.

At the University of Idaho (U of I), they are working on a number of defense-related projects with promising futures. The university will receive $1.2 million for Secure Group Communications, which will help provide higher levels of security for the high-speed computer networks that our armed forces and our allies are depending on more and more each year. The U of I will also receive $1 million for their Advanced Lead Acid Battery Development for Military Vehicles. These are just two of the projects that will bring in more than $8 million dollars in defense funding for the U of I.

In eastern Idaho, INEEL continues to build on its proud history of military innovation. INEEL pioneered the use of depleted uranium armor for our M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, making our tankers vastly safer within their vehicles.
Now they are working on several more projects, including one that will help military aircraft and vehicles to mask their infrared thermal signatures, making them more difficult for enemies to detect and identify.

AMI Semiconductor in Pocatello will receive funding to work on streamlining the production of specialized semiconductors which will be vital to the production of the new Joint Strike Fighter, and Idaho State University is working to develop portable devices capable of destroying chemical and biological agents.

The list goes on and on, including more projects, people, and institutions than I have space to mention. Across the state, Idahoans are contributing not only their brawn, but their brains. These efforts will help American servicemen and women do more, go farther, faster, and higher, with increasing safety and precision.

The military will not be the only beneficiary, either. History has shown that technologies developed by or for the military often are declassified later and end up on the store shelf, ready for the consumer. Transistor radios, computers, portable CD players, microwave ovens - all of these and more descended or were spinoffs of inventions originally developed for our space programs or our armed services. These innovations have undoubtedly improved our standard of living by leaps and bounds.

We can all be proud that Idaho is leading the way as another generation of military innovations is taken from the drawing board to the proving grounds to the battlefield, and eventually, to the store shelves. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue to see to it that Idaho's universities, laboratories, and businesses can continue to make their contribution to the defense of America and the defense of freedom.

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