Resolution Calls on DoD to Keep Alaska Bases Open (HJR 35)
HJR 35 Makes Case for Alaska Installations’ Value to National Defense, State Economy
Monday, February 6, 2012, Juneau, Alaska – The Joint Armed Services Committee today introduced House Joint Resolution 35, urging the U.S. Department of Defense to protect military bases and personnel in Alaska.
Rep. Dan Saddler, R-JBER/Eagle River and co-chair of the committee, said the resolution is timely given a recent Pentagon announcement of various plans that would cut $487 billion and 90,000 troops from the budget by 2024, cut up to 270 civilian jobs at Anchorage and Fairbanks bases, transfer an F-16 squadron from Fairbanks to Anchorage, and remove four C-130 from Anchorage.
Military forces in Alaska are also at risk from a possible new round of the federal Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, and $500 million in defense budget cuts that will take effect automatically should Congress not reduce other federal spending, Saddler said.
“If we are to defend Alaska’s military bases and the benefits they bring to our nation’s defense and our state’s economy, then the best defense is a good offense – and the best offense is a coordinated offense,” Saddler said. “Alaskans can and will succeed if we work together across personal, political, and regional lines for the common mission of supporting and protecting the armed forces in our state.”
Alaska is home to 42 military installations, 23,000 active-duty personnel and more than 4,000 National Guard and Reserve personnel, Saddler said. Eielson Air Force Base supports one in nine jobs in Fairbanks, and Joint Base Elmendorf/Richardson (JBER) is a significant element of Anchorage’s economy. The military presence in Alaska is worth $1.6 billion to the state’s economy.
Eielson was originally marked for closure under the 2005 BRAC round, but was saved after Alaskans banded together to defend its value. BRAC still resulted in closure of the Galena and King Salmon forward air stations, closure of Kulis Air National Guard Base, the loss of Eielson’s A-10 squadron, and the combination of Anchorage’s Army and Air Force installations into JBER.
HJR 35 was referred to the House Special Committee on Military and Veterans’ Affairs.