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Committee Passes Bill to Help Protect Alaska’s Military Bases and Personnel

Senate Bill 222 helps fight proposed cuts that would diminish Alaska’s global strategic position in keeping America safe

JUNEAU –Today, the Senate State Affairs committee took a big step towards protecting Alaska’s military bases and personnel from federal budget cuts.   Committee members passed Senate Bill 222, which would appropriate $300,000 to hire a consulting firm to develop strategies to save Alaska’s military installations from possible reductions and closures.

“Alaska’s location and resources are of critical strategic importance to the defense of our nation,” said Senator Bill Wielechowski, Chair of the Senate State Affairs Committee.  “We need a strong voice in Washington, DC to ensure that the significance of Alaska’s military is recognized as Congress considers hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to the Pentagon’s budget.”

In January, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced plans to ask Congress for two new rounds of base closures and realignments that would take place in 2013 and 2015.   The cuts are part of an effort to slash $487 billion over the next decade from the Pentagon’s budget.

“Alaska’s military bases provide vital strategic advantages for current and future missions, force mobilization, and offensive and defensive operations,” said Senator Wielechowski. “Cutting military strength in Alaska could have a devastating impact on both state and national security.”

Alaska is home to the northern-most US Air Force Base, which provides access to the Joint Pacific Range Complex training space and a 63,000-square mile military complex that serves as a unique training and readiness compound unlike any other place in the world.

“Closing military bases in Alaska not only puts the United States at a disadvantage when it comes to national defense, it could also devastate local communities,” said Senator Wielechowski.  “Alaska’s military force is a critical component of our economy with 32 military installations, more than 23,000 active duty service members and more than 37,000 active family members, which contribute approximately 13 percent to Alaska’s economy.”

Last month, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Joint Resolution 14, urging the United States Department of Defense to protect military bases and military personnel in Alaska for the defense and protection the nation. 

“We need to stand together as a state to fight any efforts to shrink or close any of Alaska’s military installations,” said Senator Wielechowski.  “Senate Bill 222 is a big step in the right direction.”

Senate Bill 222 now heads to the Senate Finance Committee for further consideration.

For more information, please call Senator Wielechowski at 242-1558 or Kendra Kloster at 465-2435.

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