Alaska Delegates Question SATF Report on Eielson Move
In April, a 26-member Site Activation Task Force team, with the Pacific Air Forces in the lead, traveled to Eielson Air Force Base as well as Joint base Elmendorf-Richardson to study the impact of moving the F-16 squadron from Eielson to the Joint Base near Anchorage.
That team determined that after an initial outlay of $5.6 million in the Fiscal Year 2013, the move would save $14.6 million over the next 5 years. The savings was cited as coming from increased manpower savings stemming from the discontinuation of 81 military positions through consolidation of maintenance supervision overhead and basic support functions.
In addition to the initial savings, the Air Force states that it will incur other savings beginning in 2016 after what they call proposed base operating support manpower adjustments. These savings are said to be $90 million a year from 2016 on.
"Eielson Air Force Base is, and will continue to be, a valuable strategic location as part of the Total Force," said Brig. Gen. Mark McLeod, Director of Logistics, Pacific Air Forces, and SATAF team lead. "The base will remain the home station for the Alaska Air National Guard's 168th Air Refueling Wing and will provide critical training through the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex supporting major joint training exercises such as Red Flag, Distant Frontier and Northern Edge."
After hearing the results of the Air Force Site Activation Task Force's report on the proposed move, Alaska's Senator Lisa Murkowski issued a release. Murkowski pointed out hidden costs that were not factored into the equation, saying, "Contrary to their opening estimate, this proposal would actually cost money, not save money, in FY13 – to the tune of over five and a half million dollars. That number itself could escalate, too, if more deficiencies are found. There is no reason to start spending money until we know environmental impacts, housing assistance costs at Eielson, housing availability, and other factors. This calculation also calls into question the savings projected down the line.
"The Air Force’s report says that housing in the Anchorage area is ‘suitable/available’ within 20 miles of JBER, but a recent report by the McDowell Group shows a housing deficit in and around Anchorage for the next two decades. Today I wrote a letter to the Commander of the 673rd Air Base Wing at JBER asking him what the plan is for housing around the base.