Murkowski Stresses “Ideal” Alaska Air Force Position, Advocates for F-35s
Senator Also Seeks Answers and Transparency for Sexual Assault Crackdown
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Senator Lisa Murkowski today questioned U.S. Air Force officials about the state’s increasingly-vital role in the nation’s defense, as well as the potential placement of F-35s in Alaska – as Alaska’s two Air Force Bases are still in the running to house the planes. Murkowski also took the opportunity with several members of Air Force leadership appearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee to inquire how the Air Force and National Guard are addressing the military sexual assault epidemic plaguing the ranks.
F-35s in Alaska
Murkowski opened up her time by reminding USAF General Mark Welsh III of Alaska’s key strategic geopolitical position, before closing her remarks by asking General Welsh to speak to “why it is important to expedite placement of a fifth generation fighter into the Pacific?”
General Welsh responded by saying F-35s are uniquely suited to the Pacific rim, and that “the F-35’s capabilities and war-fighting abilities are very well-suited for a very highly technical threat in that part of the world and it’ll be important for us to train in that environment.”
Encouraged by his answer, Murkowski maintained that “We are talking about the proximity to the Pacific theater and polar considerations. Alaska, and particularly Eielson, is the ideal location for the F-35.” Murkowski then told Welsh she is eagerly awaiting the outcome of their analysis to determine a preferred alternative for F-35 basing and a short list of other reasonable alternatives this summer.
(Click on the picture about to watch Senator Murkowski press on the importance of F-35’s to Alaska)
Murkowski Wants Answers on “Cloud” of Sexual Assault over Military
Murkowski then proceeded to her next line of questioning, asking National Guard Bureau Chief General Frank Grass about the troubling allegations of sexual assaults within the Alaska National Guard that she had asked the Pentagon to investigate last year, inquiring “whether the National Guard Bureau is coordinating its investigation with others, when will we know something, and will the outcomes be transparent?”
General Grass responded that he created the Office of Complex Investigation last year in order to deal with the complicated legal matters surrounding sexual assault within the National Guard – and that he sent a team to Alaska three weeks ago at the request of the State of Alaska. “The reason we created the Office of Complex Investigations was so that we could bring someone from outside of the State and report back to the Governor.”
Murkowski reiterated that she is not only seeking results to these investigations, but also full transparency in how the Office of Complex Investigations conducted its work and the information it was able to gather.
(Click on the picture above for Murkowski asking General Grass on investigations.)