Murkowski, Begich, Young: F-16's Will Stay in Fairbanks After a two-year fight against an ill-conceived proposal to relocate the F-16s from Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks to Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson (J-BER),the Air Force has scrapped .......
PoliticalNews.me - Oct 08,2013 - Murkowski, Begich, Young: F-16's Will Stay in Fairbanks
Delegation Receives Official Word from Air Force
After a two-year fight against an ill-conceived proposal to relocate the F-16s from Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks to Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson (J-BER) , “warm” the base and cut thousands of jobs, Alaska’s congressional delegation received official word that the Air Force has scrapped the proposal.
During a conference call with the Alaska delegation Air Force senior leaders reported the strategic assessment of Eielson, conducted by General “Hawk” Carlisle, Commander of Pacific Air Forces, was complete and a decision made to keep the F-16s at Eielson.
U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Mark Begich and Congressman Don Young fought hard last year to secure a one-year delay of the proposal. They demanded that Air Force leadership explain why it made sense to downsize and warm Eielson as the focus of U.S. military strategy shifts to the Pacific region.
The delegation grilled Air Force officials during multiple congressional hearings and various office meetings in both the Senate and House of Representatives.
Knowing a thorough analysis would prove the Air Force’s assumptions about cost savings from “warming” Eielson to be wrong, Alaska’s delegation demanded to see facts and continually stressed the strategic importance of Eielson. They made sure community members were involved in assessments since Alaskans have a keen understanding and appreciation of Eielson and the impact relocation would have on the community. The delegation also denounced the idea of the attempted backdoor Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) in multiple pieces of legislation.
In August, Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh visited Eielson at the request of Murkowski, Begich and Young. After his visit he spoke publicly about Eielson’s advantage over other bases in the Pacific to host the new generation fighter. In September, General Carlisle spoke at the Air Force Association Annual Conference and indicated that the U.S. Air Force was committed to its current PACAF base positioning.
The Air Force is expected to announce the criteria for determining initial F-35 bases in the Pacific later this week.
“Alaskans love to love our Air Force, and I believe when thousands of us from Salcha to Mountain View came together against this move, they made their case and the Air Force took an appropriate, closer look at a proposal they now acknowledge was flawed and a proposal that was communicated poorly,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “Eielson’s supporters, in their red t-shirts came out first in February and again in August to make the compelling case at public hearings. On behalf of a grateful Alaska military family – and that includes every civilian supporter of our armed forces – I thank the Air Force for seeing the merit of our argument: that Alaska’s people and position make it a valuable – perhaps the most valuable – asset for emerging threats in the Pacific region, and that ‘America Needs Eielson.’ As the United States Air Force considers Eielson for F-35s and other new missions, I believe this