U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich today co-sponsored an amendment to the Senate Continuing Resolution (CR) which would prohibit until 2014 any force structure adjustments which would halt the proposal to move the F-16s from Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks to Joint-Base Elmendorf Richardson (J-BER) in Anchorage.
"When the Air Force released their proposal, I encouraged them to go back to the drawing board: Do more thoughtful research of the housing markets than surfing Craigslist; consider the already-crowded Anchorage airspace surrounding JBER and ask why we're spending millions extra to relocate F-16s during an era of fiscal restraint," said Murkowski. "It wouldn't make much sense to be upgrading our missile fields at Fort Greely due to emerging threats, but downgrade the Eielson Air Force base capabilities -- and this amendment would give them time to reflect and reconsider."
"I received a commitment from the Air Force last summer that the F-16s would not be moved, and this amendment provides clear language that there will be no transfers until the Air Force dots its "i's" and crosses its "t's" in reviewing their structure," said Begich. "Every Alaskan knows the value of the military in our state and I will be working with the delegation to not only keep the military strong in Alaska, but expand its presence."
The Senators' bill would delay any structure movement until the National Commission for the Structure of the Air Force, set up in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) reports on its findings. The year delay is critical for Alaska's military readiness, military families, and the entire Fairbanks community.
Senators Murkowski and Begich have been vocal in advocating the strategic importance of Alaska's military bases. As a former member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), Begich introduced an amendment to the NDAA that would prevent future proposals like the one that moved the F-16s without a thorough analysis of the proposed move's impacts and to make sure Congress won't be asked to vote on "backdoor" Base Realignment and Closures (BRACs) in the future.