Murkowski Asks PACAF Commander: Is Eielson Downsizing Plan Continuing?
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Murkowski today sent a welcome letter to the incoming Commander of the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), while taking the opportunity to lay out serious concerns about whether the Air Force is proceeding with plans to relocate the F-16 Aggressor Squadron away from Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks.
Despite the Alaska Congressional Delegation being told on June 26th that the proposed relocation – and the considerable downsizing that would result from the staff shift to Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson – has been put on hold, Senator Murkowski writes in the (attached) letter:
I write today to express my concern about some disturbing news suggesting that contrary to commitments that senior leaders have made to the Alaska congressional delegation and Congressional defense committees, the Air Force continues to move forward with plans to downsize Eielson Air Force Base.
Senator Murkowski points out that some actions being seen and reported don’t match the public statements that have been issued from the Pentagon and the Air Force, continuing:
On Friday August 31, I became aware that some corners of the Air Force may not have gotten the message. I understand that a contractor team … visited with Fairbanks community leaders last week to discuss matters related to Eielson Air Force Base. [The team] told community leaders that [the] mission was to undertake “preparatory work in anticipation of a National Environmental Policy Act action that would not take place until the end of Fiscal Year 2013.”
Wrapping up her letter, Senator Murkowski notes that if that environmental assessment is connected to the proposed F-16 move, then it is “inconsistent with both letter and the spirit of the pending Fiscal Year 2013 defense bills” that she worked on in her position on the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. Given Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s public delay of the Eielson move – along with all similar Air Force restructuring actions – she asks “I would appreciate a response to why this work was not put on hold following Secretary Panetta’s June 22, 2012 commitment that implementation of Air Force structure changes would be suspended until Congress has provided guidance in the Fiscal Year 2013 bills.”