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Interior Delegation Sends Letter Opposing Potential Alaska Military Base Closures

Today, the Interior Delegation of the Alaska Sate Legislature sent a letter to the United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta expressing support for keeping Alaska’s military bases open and fully operational. The letter is in response to Secretary Panetta’s announcement of two more rounds of potential base closures through the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

“The military bases in Interior Alaska are of unique importance to our communities and our nation. It is absolutely imperative they are kept open and maintained at a strong capacity,” said Interior Delegation Chair Representative Bob Miller (D-Fairbanks).

Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base, the military bases in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, account for 16 percent of the Borough’s population. When combined with the other military installations in the Interior, Fort Greely and Clear Air Station, they inject $3.9 billion dollars a year into the local economy.

The letter states, “Their unmatched strategic and combat capabilities are an incredible source of pride for all Alaskans and an integral part of our nation’s security…Respectfully, we cannot overemphasize the full value of Alaska’s military bases and their importance to Alaska communities.”

Besides their vital economic role in our local communities, Interior Alaska bases provide the nation’s premier access to cold-weather testing and training. These installations are strategic locations for military requirements that include potential first response and defense operations in support of international stability throughout Asia and the Pacific.

Furthermore, the completion of the Tanana River Bridge will expand these benefits by creating the Joint-Pacific Area Range Complex, a project the Interior Delegation secured $84 million in state funding in 2010-2011.

Senator Coghill had additional concern, stating that “I just learned of the announcement about the Air Force moving the F-16 Aggressor Squadron from Eielson to Joint Base Elmendorf.  I am still trying to understand the reason for this move.  It looks to me like a realignment without the public input.”

Copies of the letter were sent to Governor Sean Parnell, and the members of Alaska’s Congressional Delegation.

Link to the letter: http://akdemocrats.org/miller/020312_Interior_Delegation_Letter-BRAC.pdf

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