As the time closed for comments to be submitted from Alaskans, Senator Lisa Murkowski today delivered a stinging and comprehensive refutation of the flawed United States Air Force proposal to transfer the F-16 Aggressor squadron from Eielson Air Force Base to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson -- in addition to the comments received directly from Alaskans through her "Eielson Closing Argument" online initiative she created before the U.S. Air Force allowed comments to be sent via the Internet.
"I am proud to have been a part of this statewide effort; where the Air Force thought they could pit different regions of our state against one another, Alaskans created a united front," said Murkowski. "Alaskans came out in Southcentral, Alaskans came out in the Interior and they chimed in via the "Eielson Closing Argument' initiative. In addition to all their voices, my letter today is an attempt to sum up all the best arguments and say "case closed.' Alaskans must be heard, have been heard -- and I will work in Washington, DC to make certain the Air Force listens."
Senator Murkowski's letter (attached) to the United States Air Force is broken down into eight points:
It is inappropriate for the Air Force to issue an Environmental Impact
Statement and a Record of Decision Downsizing Eielson Before the Commission on the Status of the Air Force has reported to Congress as required by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Congress neither mandated nor sanctioned the Air Force decision to reduce its budget by downsizing Eielson. To the contrary the Senate Appropriations Committee has seriously questioned the Air Force's approach to budget reduction.
The Air Force Should Conduct an Enterprise-Wide Analysis of Cost Savings Alternatives Throughout the Air Force rather than impose cost savings on a high value, geographically superior air base.
The Air Force Should Consider the Alternative of Relocating the F-16 Squadron Based in Spangdahlem, Germany to Eielson in support of national security objectives and to enable Eielson to operate more efficiently.
The Air Force Should Heavily Weigh the Adverse Impact of the Proposed Action on Airmen and Military Families Before Forcing them to Move from Eielson.
The Air Force Must Consider Possible Adverse Effects of the 168th Air Refueling Wing's Mission Before Downsizing Eielson.
Increasing air traffic congestion in the Anchorage area could adversely impact safety and require restrictions on general and civil aviation. Increased jet noise in the Mat-Su Valley could have an adverse impact on hunters, fishermen and wildlife.
The Air Force failed to consult with Alaska's 229 Federally Recognized Tribes in the Scoping Process. Moreover, implementing the F-16 relocation could stress the Anchorage housing market to the detriment of lower income Alaskans.