Alaska Leaders Urge Air Force to Conduct Rigorous Eielson Visit
Governor, DC Delegation “Deeply Troubled” by Initial Reports
WASHINGTON, DC – Alaska’s Washington, DC delegation and Governor Sean Parnell today sent a letter (attached) to Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and United States Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz, encouraging the USAF to take a complete and comprehensive look at the proposed move of the F-16 Aggressor squadron from Eielson Air Force Base.
In the letter, they express concern that the proposal is based on a “tabletop exercise,” in the words of General Schwartz. They also make the case that the Pentagon is not taking all immediate and gradual impacts into account, writing:
“We respectfully submit that the incremental cost that will be saved by relocating the Aggressor Squadron will prove to be relatively negligible, if it exists at all, in contrast with the more significant cost of maintaining Eielson Air Force Base in an operational state.”
The leaders also encouraged the Air Force to incorporate the Fairbanks community into the fact-finding trip, writing:
“We encourage the survey team to visit with appropriate officials of the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, the Fairbanks North Star Borough and other appropriate stakeholder groups who may be in the best position to help the survey team present an accurate report.”
The Governor and Alaska’s DC delegation also laid out a point-by-point explanation of the additional considerations that the Air Force should include in their upcoming site visit.
- Negative effects on home values: If hundreds of airmen are required to sell their homes, this could lead to “significant financial losses” due to market pressures.
- Construction Expenses at JBER: Costs of building additional housing and increasing civilian personnel at JBER, given the “housing on JBER is currently at capacity.”
- Higher Cost of Red Flag: The increased fuel usage and temporary duty assignment pay (TDY) that will be incurred by the Red Flag exercises.
- Congested air space in Anchorage: Adding a squadron of F-16s to the already active air space surrounding Anchorage is a challenge, with skies full of passenger airplanes, Fed Ex, UPS, Lake Hood Seaplane Base and the current JBER traffic.
- Natural disaster vulnerability: If all fighter assets were to be located at JBER, the possibility of “a volcanic eruption or earthquake that could potentially ground all aircraft” is a serious concern