Murkowski on Site Survey Report: “Significant Questions Remain; Today Created More”

Senator Stresses Rising Costs of ‘Savings,’ Other Unknowns in F-16 Proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today learned the results of the United States Air Force Site Activation Task Force (SATAF) report surrounding the proposal to move the F-16 Aggressor Squadron from Eielson Air Force Base.  She had the following response to the preliminary findings:

"The United States Air Force told Alaskans in January that their proposal to move the F-16s to JBER was based on a tabletop exercise.  Today’s report from their research team suggests that tabletop is broken and they need to find a drawing board to go back to.

"Contrary to their opening estimate, this proposal would actually cost money, not save money, in FY13 – to the tune of over five and a half million dollars.  That number itself could escalate, too, if more deficiencies are found. There is no reason to start spending money until we know environmental impacts, housing assistance costs at Eielson, housing availability, and other factors.  This calculation also calls into question the savings projected down the line.

"The Air Force’s report says that housing in the Anchorage area is ‘suitable/available’ within 20 miles of JBER, but a recent report by the McDowell Group shows a housing deficit in and around Anchorage for the next two decades.  Today I wrote a letter (attached) to the Commander of the 673rd Air Base Wing at JBER asking him what the plan is for housing around the base.

“Today the Air Force acknowledged that some housing assistance funds may be needed for relocation of active duty airmen and their families, along with the potential for home construction down the line – for a plan that is supposed to save money. The money that comes with these possibilities is not a part of any proposal and no funds have been requested for that purpose.

“In February, the Air Force didn't think any environmental review was needed. Today, they acknowledge a review is needed, but it won't be completed before December 2012 - well into FY13– and the Air Force acknowledges the entire plan is contingent on the environmental review.  That, too, will cost more money. The Air Force is trying to get this plan in the air but it is nowhere near ready for takeoff.

"I had hoped that today would be a day for questions answered, but today’s presentation left many unanswered while raising even more. The Air Force has more work to do regarding this idea, which makes me even more convinced my bill S.2073 – which prohibits a transfer – is appropriate at this time.”