Murkowski Eielson Delay Emerges in Final Defense Bill

Senator’s Fights against Hazing, for Missile Defense Pass Senate and Head to White House

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski was proud to vote for the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act that includes numerous priorities she advocated for to support Alaska’s military servicemen and communities – most notably, the added time she pushed for blocking any equipment or aircraft movement nationwide until 2014 from an Air Force Commission’s findings.

The final “Conference Report” – the product of both House of Representatives and Senate negotiators – also includes Murkowski priorities like: giving our men and women in uniform a pay raise, requiring the military investigate the issue of hazing among troops, as well as how to improve our missile defense infrastructure.

“This Conference Report reassures me that Alaska’s military presence is not going to be overhauled because of research on Craigslist and half-baked assessments based on data Alaskans already rebutted seven years ago,” Murkowski said.  “If we are going to modernize and streamline our military, I continue to believe that we cannot undercut installations that are closest to the Asia-Pacific theater where we plan to focus our energies and resources.”

This finalized bill gives both the Fairbanks and Anchorage areas more time to make the case that neither of the two cities benefit from the poorly-researched proposal to transfer the F-16 Aggressor squadron from Eielson Air Force Base to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.  (See attached column from Bill Popp, Anchorage Economic Development Corporation.)

The 2013 Defense Appropriations bill explicitly states that the Air Force cannot move any equipment, including the F-16s from Eielson, until the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force has had a chance to fully vet the proposal.  Senator Murkowski had an amendment in the Senate version of the Defense Authorization bill that pushed the deadline into 2014, which remained in the final version – though it was adjusted from March 31, 2014 to February 1, 2014.

(Murkowski Addresses the Senate on Eielson Proposal, November – CLICK image to watch)

The final conference report also incorporates a number of policy proposals that Senator Murkowski supported on behalf of Alaskans:

  • Pay Increase: America’s armed forces will receive a 1.7% raise to support their efforts and sacrifice during a period of heightened and extended military activity.
  • Anti-Hazing Legislation: Senator Murkowski joined Senator Kirsten Gillebrand (D-NY) to require service secretaries – and the Secretary of Homeland Security in the case of the Coast Guard – submit a report within six months on their efforts to prevent hazing of members of the armed forces and to respond to and resolve alleged hazing incidents.
  • Military Construction: The bill slots $18.3 million for two Alaskan Army Modified Record Fire Ranges for Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Fort Wainwright.
  • Fort Greely Operations: The bill supports continued operations at the Ground Based Missile Defense system at Fort Greely – placing a high priority on correcting past technical issues with the system.