Alaskan Congressman Don Young released the following statement today in response to news that the Air Force has halted its plan to move the F-16 squadron from Eielson Air Force Base to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson:
"I welcome today's announcement by the Air Force and I am pleased they have decided to suspend their plans to move Eielson's 18th Aggressor Squadron. As I have long maintained, the Air Force had a responsibility to present all the facts and prove to Alaskans that moving these F-16s was the right thing to do both for the nation and for Alaska.
"Last month I was successful in attaching an amendment to the FY13 Defense Authorization, that would ensure the long-term costs and benefits of this move -- and similar moves -- add up. My goal then, and my goal now is to make sure that each and every relocated airman would have proper housing, that local schools would remain open, and that every penny of savings is accounted for. Just as important, I had to make sure that the Air Force did not forget just how strategically important Eielson is and will continue to be many years into the future.
"As every Alaskan knows, the military and Alaska have a strong and mutually beneficial relationship. Moving forward, I intend on continuing to work with the Air Force, the rest of the Delegation, the Governor, and local officials to come up with a long-term energy plan for Fairbanks and the surrounding region. Eielson Air Force Base is too important to our national defense for us to continue to neglect the high cost of energy -- especially when it seems to be the driving force behind these proposed force moves."
On May 18, 2012, Congressman Young unanimously passed a bipartisan amendment to H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. This amendment is the ONLY legislative language to pass either the House of Representatives or Senate and has laid the groundwork for how the Air Force will handle their force structure changes in the future. Specifically, Congressman Young's amendment ensures that Congress has the ability to prevent backdoor BRACs by fully evaluating the long-term costs and benefits and the local economic, environmental, strategic, and operational consequences of the proposed reduction. This oversight is expanded from current reductions to include future planned reductions, and comprise the total number of military and civilian personnel assignments affected, including reductions in base operations support services and personnel to occur because of the proposed reduction.