Governor Sean Parnell announced today that he will not let the Department of Defense (DoD) make decisions that will severely impact our nation's military and Alaskan communities without Alaska's voice being heard. DoD Secretary Leon Panetta said that force reductions will take place that impact all 50 states and a Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) will be requested of Congress to address facility reductions as soon as possible.
The Alaska Military Force Advocacy and Structure Team (AMFAST) recommends the State of Alaska hire an experienced consulting group to address any ideas proposed by the next BRAC. Governor Parnell will put forward a budget request of the Legislature for $300,000 to promote and sustain Alaska's current military facilities and force structure.
"With the DoD strategic mission focused on Asia, it is obvious that Alaska's geographic location is a perfect fit to project power into Europe, Central Asia, and the Pacific theater of operations," Governor Parnell said. "We will work closely with our congressional delegation to make sure Alaska meets the needs of our national defense strategy without compromising the force that currently exists in the state."
Panetta outlined a plan to cut nearly $500 billion in the next 10 years from the DoD budget, and said, "Make no mistake, the savings we are proposing will impact all 50 states and many districts across America."
The U.S. military's presence in Alaska represents 10 percent of the state's economy. While local job creation does not outweigh national security needs, the DoD should be increasing its military defense resources in Alaska to fulfill the country's strategic focus in the Pacific.
"We have taken all of the right steps to support the military in Alaska," Parnell said. "We made it easier for military spouses to get hired with out-of-state professional licenses; we funded almost half of the construction costs for a bridge to the nation's largest military training area, and we provided new and innovative funding mechanisms to the state's lending agency to address military construction needs across the state."