Murkowski: Does Drawdown Increase Risk For Alaska Troops?

Senator Questions Secretary Of Defense About Stryker Brigade Safety

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to make certain the safety of Alaska-based troops recently deployed to Afghanistan does not decline as the military begins its planned drawdown this summer and reduces expenditures on the Afghanistan effort, asking “What assurances can you give me that our soldiers just now getting to Afghanistan and will be there for the next year, that their situation is not getting increasingly risky?”

Secretary Gates responded that the budget cuts that reflect the drawdown do not indicate a decline in safety or responsiveness – only the costs of less soldiers being stationed there – saying “The President and I agree that whatever steps are taken do not put the troops that are leaving at greater risk or the troops that are remaining at greater risk.”

In April, the 4,000 members of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry division from Fort Wainwright were deployed to Afghanistan for a year-long deployment that will coincide with a drop in troop levels there, starting next month.

Senator Murkowski also shared the thoughts she’s heard from many Alaskans about the drawdown with the Pentagon head, saying “The families want to be in this phase, but they’re concerned that their loved ones who just arrived in Afghanistan are going to be on the back end as other forces move out.”

For video of Senator Murkowski’s exchange with Secretary Gates, click here.