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Begich Not Satisfied With Eielson Report

rage, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today said he is frustrated to see the move would actually cost millions of dollars, rather than save money in the first year as the Air Force has claimed it would.

“While I’m pleased to finally have the report released, I am disappointed, yet not surprised, to see the move of the F-16s from Eielson to JBER would actually cost money in the first year and estimated cost-savings appear to be less than half of what was projected initially. It is clear that the cost to implement this proposal has not been properly budgeted for,” Begich said.

“The Air Force has also acknowledged there could be additional costs beyond Fiscal Year 2013 associated with the relocation not contained in the report. And while some information was collected about the down-sizing of Eielson in future years, none of those projected cost savings outlined in the report have actually been validated. The bottom line is we have yet to see a comprehensive five-year analysis detailing the total budgetary ramifications of the relocation and long-term plan for Eielson. The Air Force needs to be straight with Congress. We cannot make  major decisions impacting the budget, military operations, and our military families based on incomplete data and inconsistent information.”

Among other things, the Air Force also acknowledged the need to further scrutinize housing availability in Anchorage for Airmen transferring from Eielson and financial assistance to offset any economic loss on home sales back in Fairbanks.

“The Air Force wants to relocate the 18th Aggressor Squadron yet hasn’t completed the necessary homework to ensure our Airmen have somewhere to live and don’t suffer unnecessary financial burdens when trying to sell their homes in Fairbanks. This is absolutely unacceptable. I urge the Chief of Staff of and Secretary of the Air Force to, at the very least, defer this relocation for one-year to minimize the disruption to our military members and families and properly budget resources requires to implement the move.

A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Begich recently put a hold on the promotion of Lt. Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle after the Air Force failed to respond to repeated requests by Begich to provide detailed information on the proposal at Eielson. Due to incompleteness of the SATAF report and lingering questions about the affordability and feasibility of executing the proposal next year Senator Begich will not be releasing his hold.

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