Eielson F-16 Transfer Proposal on Hold
U.S. Senator Mark Begich was notified by the Air Force yesterday that it will not move forward with a plan to transfer the F-16 squadron from Eielson Air Force Base to Anchorage, in the face of congressional opposition and pending legislation prohibiting the move.
In a letter late yesterday to Begich by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, the general says “the Air Force will not take action on the proposal to relocate the F-16s from Eielson Air Force Base until Congress has completed action on the FY 2013 authorization and appropriations bills.”
The letter comes on the heels of a meeting between Schwartz and Begich in the senator’s office late Monday. It follows weeks of Begich asking the Air Force to prove up its cost analysis of the proposed move of the F-16 squadron and Begich putting a hold on the promotion of a three-star general when the information wasn’t forthcoming. After receipt of the letter, Begich said he will release his hold on the promotion of Lt. Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle.
“This is some of the best news I’ve had the chance to deliver to Alaskans: that the Air Force has recognized its proposal to move the 18th Aggressor Squadron was not well-vetted and analyzed, and that there is certainly no support in Congress for such action,” Begich said. “Eielson plays a vital role in the nation’s defense and I’m committed to defending that role.”
In Schwartz’s letter, he says the Secretary of Defense directed the Air Force to suspend all force structure adjustments, including the relocation of the F-16s until Congress completes action on defense budget bills.
“In compliance with the Secretary’s intent, the Air Force will not take action on the proposal to relocate the F-16s from Eielson Air Force Base until Congress has completed action on the FY 2013 authorization and appropriations bills. If the bills, as enacted, prohibit the transfer of the F-16s from Eielson Air Force Base, the Air Force will not execute the relocation,” Schwartz says in his letter to Begich.
Sen. Begich, a member of the Armed Services Committee, has been leading the charge with the Alaska Congressional delegation against moving the F-16s to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson since it was first announced in February including: