Senator Begich Continues Efforts to Halt the Move of F-16 Squadron from Eielson

Yesterday, Senator Begich sent a letter to Senators Carl Levin and John McCain asking that the DOD Force Structure not be approved until the Department of Defense conducts cost,risk and feasibility assessments. Levin and McCain are the chairman and ranking member in the Senate Armed Services Committee.

He wrote to the two Senators in support of their efforts requesting that the department of Defense not take action on the Force Structure decision until after the Fiscal Year 2013 defense budget request has been authorized and appropriated by Congress.

Begich also asked Levin and McCain to prohibit any funds that have been authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 from being obligated or spent for force structure decisions until such a time as adequate information is provided and approved by Congress and reviewed by the Government Accountability Office.

Senator Begich pointed out that at last week’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Department of the Air Force’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget request and future years defense program, that no detailed assessments had been conducted prior to the force structure decision.

Begich pointed out in the letter that the Air Force’s information regarding the proposed changes was inconsistant and insufficient and lacked details and the assessment required to conduct oversight as well as make informed decisions.

Cited in the letter was the proposed relocation of the 18th Aggressor Squadron from Eielson Air Force Base to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.The move is meant to save money but no feasibility assessment or cost anaysis has been done in regards to the relocation. He stressed that a feasibility study, cost analysis and risk assessment would not be done by the Air Force until mid April. With the Senate Committee scheduled to look at the National Defense Authorization in May, Begich voiced his concern that the committee may not have enough time to review the site assessment team findings adequately.

Begich asked that the Government Accountabilty Office review the material to be submitted to Congress by the Air Force for sufficiency and accuracy in light of the fact that past reports have been inaccurate and full of discrepancies. In particular, Begich pointed out the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure information provided by the Air Force where it was found that the Air Force overestimated the savings of the Eielson base relocation by $1 billion and underestimated the military value of the base.