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Begich Pushes Panetta to Stop Eielson F-16 Move

Following a one-on-one meeting between the two last month discussing questions and concerns over the Air Force’s proposal to move the Eielson Air Force Base F-16 squadron to Anchorage, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta telling him the Air Force has still not provided the adequate information to Congress about the proposed move.

Sen. Begich and Sec. Panetta met in Begich’s Washington D.C. office on May 11, where the senator was able to outline the many concerns he has over the Air Force’s proposal to move the 18th Aggressor Squadron from Eielson to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson without a thorough cost analysis.

“To date, the Air Force still has not provided a factual and comprehensive analysis or long-term plan for Eielson AFB—information to which you and I agree Congress is entitled,” Begich states in his letter.

Begich also writes to Panetta about the lack of complete and credible data in the Pacific Air Force’s Site Activation Task Force (SATAF) report released May 31 which includes using “Craig’s List” as a source for housing availability in Anchorage. The Air Force has also admitted the move would actually cost money in Fiscal Year 2013 rather than save money as was initially stated.

“I strongly urge you to consider the adverse impact hastily implementing a plan without the facts will have on more than 500 military members and two communities,” Begich writes. “In the interest of our military families and the Department of Defense’s relationship with communities across the country and with Congress, I implore you to issue a one-year delay so a comprehensive analysis can be completed as was adopted by the Senate Armed Services Committee in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 13.”

Begich was successful in getting language into the NDAA for a one-year moratorium on Eielson when the bill was marked-up two weeks ago by the Senate Armed Services Committee, of which Begich is a member. That bill goes next to the Senate floor.

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