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WASHINGTON, D.C. â€“ As the House Armed Services Committee began its debate on the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act, Alaskan Congressman Don Young testified Wednesday before the Armed Services Committee, and laid out some of Alaskaâ€™s national defense priorities for the upcoming fiscal year.
In his testimony, Rep. Young spoke in support of more robust Army and Air Force training in Alaska’s Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC), more manpower and aircraft for the Alaska National Guard’s 168th Refueling Wing, basing the F-35A in Alaska, retaining Alaska’s C-23 Sherpa aircraft and drew attention to two former Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians that created a realistic Improvised Explosive Device (IED) training center at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson (JBER).
“Alaska is a proud state and it is a proud military state. Not only is Alaska home to the largest per capita population of veterans in the country, it is also home to significant force structure for both the Air Force and Army. In Alaska, we appreciate our service members as much as any community in the country,” Rep. Young said.
Training in Alaska:
As a long time advocate of the JPARC training range, Rep. Young asked the Armed Services Committee, “To broadly consider the amazing training opportunities in Alaska and the JPARC. Specifically, as the President begins to ask for more funding for training ranges, I would like to encourage the Committee to find ways to apply those resources to ranges of the future, like the JPARC. Along these lines, I would also like the Committee to consider working with the Army to pre-position mobility, and instrumented land warfare equipment at bases like Fort Wainwright for ‘force on force’ training. The U.S. is an arctic nation, as are other countries in which we have conducted combat operations in our history. We must be able to project power into the arctic environment and extensive arctic training is needed to do that.”
Basing F-35A in Alaska:
As the Defense Department continues to consider the Outside Continental United States (OCONUS) basing for the newest Air Force fighter, the F-35, Rep. Young asked that, “When working with the Air Force on the OCONUS Basing Review for the F-35A, please consider Alaska’s unique and highly strategic location. I’ve included a chart in my testimony that demonstrates our unique position in the world.”
168th Air Refueling Wing:
As our National Military Strategy shifts to the Asia-Pacific, Rep. Young highlighted the importance of the Northern and Southern Air Refueling bridges, which includes Alaska’s 168th Air Refueling Wing, “I would like to request that the Committee include language for a report to analyze the capacity of the Northern and Southern Pacific Air Bridges. This report would ask the Secretary of the Air Force to provide information on the benefits of adding additional manpower and/or aircraft to these Air Bridges. These bridges are the logistical keys to our power-projection and rapid-response capabilities in the Pacific.”
C-23 Sherpa Aircraft:
Speaking in support of the C-23 Sherpa, Rep. Young explained, “Given the on-going draw down of the C-23, I ask the Committee to work on a specific solution for Alaska’s Sherpa fleet. These airframes can land on many of Alaska’s short, rural runways, a capability that cannot be filled by any other aircraft.”
Rep. Young invited the Armed Services Committee up to Alaska to see the IED training lane first hand. “We have a lot of amazing force structure and are quite proud of it. Specifically though, one area I would encourage you to visit is the IED Training Lane on JBER. This lane is a model of IED training on which the rest of the Department of Defense its training.”
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