General Schwartz To Explain Planned Movement of Eielson F-16s

Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz meets with a group of local officials in Fairbanks tomorrow.  General Schwartz is coming to explain the Air Force’s planned movement of Eielson Air Force Base’s F-16 Squadron, and as many 2,000 of the base’s 2,700 people, to Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson in Anchorage. The Air Force proposed a similar move in 2005 during a federal Base Realignment and Closure or BRAC process. The Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation led a campaign that stopped the move, but FEDCO CEO Jim Dodson says this time around there’s no BRAC commission to petition.

Dodson says it’s good that the borough is hiring a consulting firm to analyze cost savings the Air Force says will be realized by moving the F-16 squadron to Anchorage.  Similar studies undermined alleged savings during the 2005 BRAC.  Dodson says the focus should be on any upcoming BRACC that could target Eielson for closure.

Dodson suspects Alaska isn’t alone facing military cuts, but the state does not have as much political clout in Washington.  Dodson says he has some hope for legislation sponsored by Senator’s Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski to stop funding of the F-16 move. Following tomorrow’s session with general Schwartz, the Senators will host a community meeting about Eielson at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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