Lawmakers to Introduce Legislation today That Will Prohibit Action
Senators Murkowski and Begich Friday issued a united set of statements opposing the Department of Defense’s plans to relocate the F-16 Aggressor squadron from Eielson Air Force Base to Elmendorf Air Force Base and retire four C-130 transport aircraft at Elmendorf – as part of a nationwide Pentagon budget reduction strategy.
When the Senate returns to session today, Murkowski and Begich will introduce legislation that would prohibit the Air Force from making these moves.
Senator Lisa Murkowski:
“While I am gratified the Air Force plans to keep the F-16 aggressor squadron in Alaska, I believe its rightful home is Eielson Air Force Base – at the gateway to the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC). Today’s announcement is identical to the BRAC proposal the Air Force advanced in 2005, when the Fairbanks community conclusively proved to the independent Base Realignment and Closure Commission that the Air Force would not achieve any savings by attempting to maintain a warm base in a cold place.
“Yet the Air Force suggests that today’s action will result in a cost savings in Fiscal Year 2015. I no more believe that they will be able to achieve that cost savings in 2015 than they could in 2005. I’m going to do everything in my power to change the Air Force’s plan.
“I am also concerned about the Air Force’s plan to retire four C-130 transports at Elmendorf, with an anticipated loss of 120 active duty positions. The C-130 plays a crucial role in disaster relief missions. Coming on the heels of an earlier announcement that the Army National Guard will retire the remaining C-23 Sherpa, I need to be convinced that this action leaves the Air Force and Guard with sufficient assets to respond to a catastrophic earthquake or other natural disaster requiring immediately available airlift capacity.”
Senator Mark Begich:
“Relocating the 18th Aggressor Squadron from Eielson to JBER is an unacceptable proposal. I will not support the Air Force’s attempt to circumvent the law and the formal BRAC process by trying to piecemeal one of the most strategic installations in the country. As Alaska’s only member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will fight this action every step of the way. A decision to relocate the F-16s from Eielson was already rejected in 2005, when the independent BRAC Commission overturned the Air Force’s recommendation, recognizing Eielson has the best airspace and range complexes and the estimated costs savings were inaccurate. Nothing has changed since 2005. Eielson Air Force Base is critical to the defense of the United States.
“The Air Force also plans to retire 4 C-130Hs stationed at JBER. It is unfortunate this will result in the loss of the active duty personnel in the integrated unit that fly these planes. However, I am pleased Air Guardsmen of the 144th Airlift Squadron will retain eight C-130s and the manpower to continue to provide important lift capability in defense of our nation and in support of our state. As members of our community, these Guardsmen will continue to make us proud in Alaska.”