Murkowski Seeks Answers from Odierno on “Pivot to the Pacific”
As U.S. Army Faces Potential Budget Cuts, Senator Questions General about Prioritizing Alaska
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski focused on Alaska’s strategic location to the Pacific theater when U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno appeared before her in the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, inquiring how safe its Army assets are from the larger budget cuts contained within the bipartisan Budget Control Act (BCA) passed in 2011. Murkowski also thanked General Odierno for Major General Karen E. Dyson, Director of the Army Budget traveling to Fairbanks to deliver the keynote address for the upcoming Fairbanks Military Appreciation Banquet tomorrow.
With Alaska being the focal point of the Pentagon’s new shift towards an Asia-Pacific defense position, Murkowski sought commitments from General Odierno that when cuts are envisioned, Alaska’s Army presence is prioritized and maintained to the best extent possible.
“What value does the Army place on maintaining two combat training teams in Alaska?” Murkowski asked General Odierno. “If we are not able to get around the BCA, if you are forced to draw down force structure to a level of 420,000 active duty and the whole pivot to the Pacific if those are the numbers we are looking at.”
General Odierno responded saying that they will be doing a thorough review of where they need forces and that “the Asia/Pacific region is up there pretty high” on its priority list. However, he emphasized that everything is on the table and the U.S. Army will start a study on where to implement other possible cuts soon.
(Senator Murkowski questions U.S. Army Chief of Staff, General Odierno – Click to watch.)
Further demonstrating his familiarity and appreciation of Alaska’s Army, General Odierno continued, “I would just highlight, as you know, the 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team just did a joint exercise in Thailand where they did a joint airborne with the Thai Army and several other great things that we continue to do out of our units in Alaska. We are very proud of what they do, what they’ve done there and what they continue to do there to support our missions around the world.”