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Murkowski Challenges Panetta’s Asia-Pacific Focus

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the eve of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s much publicized speech touting the Pentagon’s new focus on the Asia-Pacific region, Senator Murkowski today wrote him a four page letter outlining her concerns with the U.S. Air Force’s proposal to move the F-16 Aggressor Squadron from Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska and downsize that base – questioning how the two actions can be reconciled.

In her letter (attached), Senator Murkowski cites her arguments against the USAF proposal at length, writing:

“I am writing today to ask that you personally encourage the Air Force to abandon its plans for Eielson Air Force Base in 2013 and take this proposal back to the drawing board. Ordinarily letters like this are referred to the Air Force for response. I respectfully ask that this letter be tasked to Deputy Undersecretary Dorothy Robyn for further investigation. Concurrent with the submission of this letter I have asked Deputy Undersecretary Robyn for a meeting to further explore whether the Air Force’s plan for Eielson Air Force Base is consistent with DOD basing policy.”

The Senator closed out the letter by informing Secretary Panetta that this will be her key priority for questioning when he appears before the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee later this month.

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