July 15, 2005
"The Department of Defense did not obtain my consent nor even consult with either my office or the Alaska Adjutant General to discuss the potential closure of Kulis Air National Guard Base as it is required to do under the U.S. Constitution and federal law," said Murkowski.
The governor cited a legal analysis from the Department of Law finding that the action is in clear violation of the 'militia clause' of the United States Constitution, art. I, sec. 8, cl. 16, and 10 U.S.C. § 18238, 32 U.S.C § 104 and 10 U.S.C § 18235 (b) (1). The State of Pennsylvania has already filed suit alleging the same arguments and several other affected states are considering following suit. The governor has instructed the attorney general to closely monitor these proceedings and to take similar action if necessary.
Murkowski stated that he would not consent to relocating Kulis Air National Guard Base to Elmendorf Air Force Base unless he received assurance that the costly relocation would be properly funded to ensure that the Air National Guard unit remains a cohesive operation with the continued ability to meet state needs. Also, the governor insisted upon additional assurances that the 168th Air Refueling Wing, the National Guard Unit currently located on Eielson Air Force Base, be allowed to continue operating at its current level.
In addition, the governor requested that the BRAC modify its internal rules regarding the voting requirements needed to determine whether or not to exempt military bases for possible closure or realignment.
"Recently one of the BRAC commissioners recused himself from involvement on whether Eielson Air Force Base should be removed from a list of bases marked for potential closure or realignment. If two or more commission members recuse themselves from the process, any vote to remove a base from the list becomes subject to a supermajority vote. This result is unfair, particularly if those recusing themselves would have been votes against shutdown," said Murkowski.
"The failure of DOD to consult with me and seek my concurrence regarding an Alaska National Guard base raises deep concerns about whether the proper procedures have been followed in the entire process," Murkowski said. "My concern is heightened by the apparent mistakes made in estimating the costs of a warm shut down of Eielson and the savings to be realized by its shutdown. I will continue to urge the Air Force not to subjugate national security interests for questionable cost savings and will continue to fight against these recommended closures and realignments."
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