The Alaska Congressional Delegation and Alaska Governor Sean Parnell issued a united set of statements defending Alaska's military bases and expressing their importance to military operations and national security. The show of support follows an announcement from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to seek two new rounds of Base Closure and Realignment Commissions (BRAC).
The last round of BRAC took place in 2005 and changes were completed in fall of 2011. Alaska's military constitutes more than 13 percent of Alaska's economy, with 32 military installations, more than 23,000 active duty service members and more than 37,000 active family members.
Governor Sean Parnell:
"Alaskans will stand united against closing our nation's most strategic military facilities in the Arctic. With the instability in the Pacific Rim and Middle East, now is not the time to experiment with this strategic advantage. I am working aggressively with our communities, elected officials, and the Department of Defense to fight any erosion of the military in Alaska."
Senator Lisa Murkowski:
"Secretary Panetta's announcement today about potential BRAC moves reinforced Alaska's key strategic role -- especially given the Pentagon's newly-stated military strategy highlighting Asia and the Pacific. Our state's role in ensuring US military dominance in the Pacific theatre is significant. If the Defense Department is true to its strategy, contribution to the military mission should grow in the coming years.
"Alaska's active duty Army and Air Force units in Alaska are primarily responsible for delivering military assets to the U.S. Pacific Command. Secretary Panetta also acknowledged that our Nation will protect or increase its investment in homeland missile defense, reinforcing Fort Greely's contribution.
"And while it may seem like yesterday that the Interior turned out by the thousands to oppose the potential closure of Eielson Air Force Base, I would like to believe that Eielson is in a stronger position today. The exercises that launch from Eielson play a key role in training allied Armed Forces to fulfill the expectations of our new military strategy and our Air National Guard refueling wing is pivotal in supporting US air missions in the Pacific area of responsibility that the Pentagon is touting as an even higher priority in the new military framework."
Senator Mark Begich:
"I support cost-savings in virtually every area of the federal budget. I have proposed billions of dollars in DOD cuts to include closure of overseas bases which the Department has the authority to do immediately. But requesting Congressional approval to begin another domestic BRAC process in 2013, shortly after spending billions to complete the most recent BRAC round just doesn't make sense.
"We must look hard at closing overseas military installations, which are more expensive to operate and maintain, before considering closure of domestic bases."
"Alaska's military bases provide essential defense for the nation. They are even more important with the administration's new focus on security concerns in the Pacific and with international attention on the changing Arctic. I'll be using my position on the Senate Armed Services Committee to demonstrate the enormous strategic value of Alaska's military bases, and oppose any misguided attempt to close them."
Congressman Don Young:
"While today's announcement is unwelcome news, it shouldn't come as a surprise. It's important to note that this is the beginning of a long process that will include countless opportunities for us to stand up and support Alaska and Alaska's military installations by illustrating their strategic importance to the expanding Arctic exploration and the overall defense of this nation. I want to make one thing clear, as someone who fought alongside Senator Stevens against previous BRAC closure attempts, I know firsthand that if we stay united in our cause and present the facts, we will be in an excellent position to beat back any attempts to close, shrink, or realign Alaskan bases."