Murkowski Urges Air Force Focus on Eielson's Future

Senator Files Amendment to Highlight Geographic, Strategic Advantages of Base

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After months of Alaska congressional delegation sparring with the United States Air Force over the future of Eielson Air Force Base, Sen. Lisa Murkowski took to the Senate floor today to seek common ground with the military, by calling attention to the singular advantages presented by having a robust and diverse Air Force presence in Alaska positioned nearest to the Asia-Pacific Region where the Pentagon is now focusing its energy and attention.

Senator Murkowski filed an amendment that would take the $400,000 set aside for ramping up the Air Force’s proposed downsizing of the installation and instead invest that money in a study to examine the unique benefits offered by Eielson – like F-35 Joint Strike Fighter missions, combat coded fighter aircrafts ready for overseas deployment, unmanned aerial vehicles and more.  Murkowski’s proposal would have the United States Air Force collaborate with the United States Coast Guard, which has already announced plans to build up its Northern Alaskan presence.

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

Though Murkowski’s speech called her Senate colleagues’ attention to the United States Air Force’s flawed methodology and suspect reasoning for the proposed move of the F-16 Aggressor Squadron from Eielson to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, and the lack of communication from the Pentagon in response to requests to better vet the concept, the Senator laid out a “good faith effort” to remind the military and the Senators working on the Defense Authorization Bill presently being debated on the floor of the importance of Eielson AFB.  She discussed her amendment that would reframe the conversation on the benefits provided by an Eielson presence, now and to the future.

Key Excerpt:

(13:55) “As the Pacific Area of Responsibility becomes more important, Eielson might once again have the potential as a combat coded fighter base, given its proximity to the world’s hotspots.  Let’s also not forget that Eielson is the air base closest to the Arctic and will certainly have new responsibilities in that rapidly-changing part of the globe. That’s one of the reasons why the Department of Homeland Security needs to be part of this conversation. Before the Air Force moves to throw away all of this and potentially demolish perfectly good facilities that might support future missions, it needs to take a good hard look at the upside of Eielson – not merely recite the same old lines that quite honestly failed in 2005.” (14:55)

The Senate will continue to consider the Defense Authorization bill and its amendments until an expected up-or-down vote next week.