Fairbanks hardest hit by DoD closure list
May 13, 2005
Governor Murkowski flew to Fairbanks today when the BRAC recommendations were made public to convene a meeting with local leaders. Under the recommendations, Fairbanks is the community that would feel the greatest economic impact in Alaska.
The 15-member task force will work with the Congressional Delegation to offer Alaska's perspective to the BRAC recommendation. It will also determine what community, job, family and retraining assistance can be made available.
"I don't agree that Eielson should be included in the BRAC recommendations because of its strategic location, but my administration will do what it can to mitigate the negative impact this decision could have on Alaskans," Murkowski said. "This decision will affect families and whole communities, and so I hope that all Alaskans will make their voices heard."
Members of the BRAC Commission or staff will visit all 62 military installations effected and the commission will hold regional hearings at sites that will be determined later. The entire process is expected to be complete by the end of 2005.
"The BRAC process is a difficult one to turn around and so we should be careful not to hold out false hope, but we still should do everything in our power to make our case," Murkowski said.
The Department of Defense estimates that between 2006-2011 there will be 2,940 direct jobs lost and 1,770 indirect jobs lost as a result of the Eielson realignment. This represents 8.7 percent of the Fairbanks area employment.
The department is recommending that the A-10 and F-16 aircraft at Eielson be relocated to bases in Louisiana, Georgia and Nevada and that the Air National Guard Tanker unit and rescue alert detachment remain behind. The base would be reduced to "warm" status and be retained by the Air Force for training exercises.
Governor Murkowski said the DoD decision makes more important the administration's work toward construction of a natural gas pipeline and a proposal to extend the Alaska Railroad through Canada. The administration is currently pursuing three Stranded Gas applications.
The railroad project would represent a multi-million dollar project that links Fairbanks with the Lower 48.
The 15-member task force will be co-chaired by Adjutant General Craig Campbell and North Pole Mayor Jeff Jacobsen. Also invited to participate are mayors Jim Whitaker and Steve Thompson, state Sens. Gene Therriault, Gary Wilken and state Reps. John Coghill, Jay Ramras, school superintendent Anne Short, Billie Blanchard and Commissioners Greg O'Claray and Edgar Blatchford.
"Beyond the economic impact to Alaska by this decision, I have concerns that removing fighter strength from this state will result in a weakened Pacific Region force strength. It is not in the best interest of the Department of Defense or the Air Force to step away from the important missions that are assigned to Eielson Air Force Base," Murkowski said.
The DoD is also recommending the Cold Regions Test Center headquarters at Fort Wainwright be moved to Fort Greely. The department does not anticipate any job losses as a result of this move.
It also recommends Kulis Air National Guard Base in Anchorage be closed and its operations be moved to nearby Elmendorf Air Force Base, at a net gain of one C-130 aircraft. The 3rd Wing at Elmendorf Air Force Base would be reduced to 18 fighter aircraft. The department estimates this will cost 848 direct jobs and 622 indirect jobs between 2006-2011, but it does not take into consideration pending force upgrades.
"While there will be some realignment affecting Anchorage, overall the final outcome would result in more personnel in the Elmendorf and Richardson installations than previous," Murkwoski said.
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