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WASHINGTON D.C.-After restating the strategic importance of Alaska and its military in two meetings today, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich received positive responses from top military officials about the role Alaska plays in our countryâ€™s national defense and the need to continue to invest in its programs and facilities.
In a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, of which Begich is a member, the senator was assured that Fort Greely’s Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) is a part of the Department of Defense’s future plans and a priority, by Dr. Ash Carter, nominee to be Deputy Secretary of Defense. He is currently serving as the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics.
“There’s little to dispute, Fort Greely will continue to play an important role in our national defense and provide an important military presence in Interior Alaska,” said Sen. Begich. “I’m pleased the Department of Defense understands the need to maintain and perfect our missile defense system and I look forward to working together on strengthening our facilities.”
In the hearing Dr. Carter commented on his continuing work with Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, from the Missile Defense Agency, to “make sure that we have tests that are realistic, that they’re numerous enough.”
During a separate meeting with Lieutenant General Francis Wiercinski, Commander of the U.S. Army Pacific Region, which includes Alaska, Begich proposed a meeting of mental health providers and local law enforcement at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to discuss ways of helping soldiers and families with the unseen wounds of war.
“Alaska’s troops have proven their dedication time and time again by contributing to our nation’s defense efforts across the globe and we need to make sure that we care for both the physical and mental scars of war when they get home,” said Sen. Begich. “I hope to work with the U.S. Army to find additional ways of stressing the importance of pre-deployment and post-deployment mental health and wellness for soldiers and support for their families.”
Lt. Gen. Wiercinski agreed to the importance of ramping up support for families during deployments and making mental health resources available for returning soldiers. The two also discussed the importance of pre-deployment training to counter the devastating impacts of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) on military members. They also commended the tremendous work U.S. Army Alaska is doing to support soldiers in Alaska.
Source: Office of Senator Begich