General Billy Mitchell, considered as the father of the U.S. Air Force, said in 1935 that “…whoever holds Alaska will hold the world… I think it is the most important strategic place in the world.” Senator Murkowski’s mission is to sustain and enhance Alaska’s contribution to U.S. national security interests, specifically through her membership on the Defense and Military Construction Appropriations subcommittees. Senator Murkowski’s recent successes include:
- Retention of the F-16 Aggressor Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base,
- Selection of Eielson Air Force Base as the beddown location for two squadrons of F-35A Joint Strike Fighters,
- Basing the AH-64 Apache attack helicopters at Fort Wainwright,
- Bringing the Gray Eagle Unmanned Aerial System to Fort Wainwright,
- Reconstructing the Missile Field 1 at the Fort Greely missile defense complex,
- Supporting expansion of the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex and the construction of the new Long Range Discrimination Radar at Clear Air Force Station.
The military’s recognition of Alaska’s strategic value is expected to trigger the infusion of $561 million for construction projects into our state’s economy over the next three years. Construction projects associated with the F-35 and LRDR programs are expected to create as much as 2,689 new jobs. Upon completion, these projects will generate 1,630 permanent jobs. A strong proponent of local hire, Senator Murkowski is pushing the military for assurances that Alaska contractors and Alaska’s construction workforce will be at the head of the line for these opportunities.
Senator Murkowski has been working to protect the 4-25 Airborne Brigade Combat Team at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson from downsizing; securing a public commitment from the Army Chief of Staff to delay the scheduled downsizing. She subsequently persuaded colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee to suggest that the Army permanently abandon the downsizing plan.
The Arctic represents the next frontier in Alaska’s strategic contribution to global defense. Senator Murkowski has long fought to fully fund the acquisition of Arctic-capable icebreakers, and on May 24, 2016, the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee voted to appropriate an unprecedented $1 billion dollars for a new heavy icebreaker.
A champion of military families, Senator Murkowski has worked to improve family support and quality of life on Alaska's military installations and to ensure that promises to military retirees are kept. She supports a fair military pay structure, opposes arbitrary reductions in the Basic Allowance for Housing, and supports preservation of the commissary benefit. She has been working for more than a decade to improve the TRICARE provider network in Alaska. She opposes both the SBC/DIC offset and restrictions on concurrent receipt of disability benefits.
Senator Murkowski is regarded as a key congressional leader on efforts to strengthen sexual assault prevention, response, and accountability. The reforms which have come to the Alaska National Guard over the past year are the direct result of Senator Murkowski’s leading role in ensuring that allegations of misconduct were fully investigated and resolved, and of her relentless push for transparency and accountability.
In recognition of her service to the military community, Senator Murkowski is a proud recipient of the Jim Messer Award, given by the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce to a civilian who, as a member of the Interior Alaska community, has made outstanding contributions in support of the military. Her work to promote community-military relationships earned national recognition as she was selected by the Association of Defense Communities to receive the Congressional Leadership Award. The U.S. Navy has also recognized Senator Murkowski with its Distinguished Public Service Award in recognition of her service as a member of the Board of Visitors of the U.S. Naval Academy and longstanding support for Navy programs.