Murkowski Responds to Grounding of Eielson F-16s
Senator: Alaska at “Tip of the Spear,” This Sends Mixed Signals as We Bolster Greely Missile Fields Nearby
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today responded to the news the F-16 Aggressor Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base has been grounded as part of a nationwide “stand down” effort connected to federal spending cuts, saying:
“Congress should replace automatic spending cuts, known as “sequestration,” with a comprehensive approach of targeted spending cuts, mandatory spending changes, and tax reform. I worry that while sequestration is in effect, the Administration will use the device to make the most visible cuts, not the least painful – the Department of Defense tuition assistance program is the perfect example.
“Moreover, among the services, the Air Force has been hit disproportionately hard by sequestration. It has more than enough money in its procurement and research and development accounts to get through the current fiscal year, but it is over $4 billion short in operations and maintenance accounts. I support allowing agencies, including the Air Force, the flexibility to implement sequestration in the least harmful way, and the grounding of the Aggressor Squadron is precisely the scenario I was trying to avoid when I voted to support more flexibility and discretion in making those cuts.
“It truly sends mixed signals to Alaskans and the international community that we are standing down our F-16s at Eielson and cancelling highly strategic exercises like Northern Edge and Red Flag Alaska at the same time that North Korea is ratcheting up its rhetoric, leading to the bolstering of the missile fields at nearby Fort Greely. Our military forces are the tip of the spear in facing threats from the Asia-Pacific region, and we should not be downshifting our capabilities or readiness in these times."