Congressman Don Young’s Amendment Could Aid Eielson
Calls for congressional oversight over large military reductions
FAIRBANKS - Alaska has scored a win in the ongoing fight against the Air Force’s plan to relocate Eielson Air Force Base’s F-16 squadron — a move some see as an attempt to close the base — when U.S. Representative Don Young added Eielson-specific language to an important military spending bill.
Young’s amendment gives Congress oversight over current and future large military force reductions, which would apply to the Eielson move, into the National Defense Authorization Act for the upcoming fiscal year that passed Friday.
Local, state and national leaders have been fighting the proposed move, worried about its impact on the local economy and the strategic future of Alaska, as well as the costs it could incur.
Air Force leaders initially said cost savings are the driving force behind the move, but others have questioned whether the Air Force has done an adequate analysis of the short- and long-term costs of the move. Air Force leaders have since backed away from that claim, but appear to be moving ahead with the relocation.
Some have called the proposed move an attempt to circumvent the traditional base-closing process, an attempt that was thwarted in 2005 when it was found that the Air Force was working off bad numbers.
“My amendment is necessary in ensuring that a ‘backdoor BRAC’ doesn’t take place,” Young said. “The data must match up with the rationale — especially in the case of Eielson. The Defense Department must dot every ‘I’ and cross every ‘T’ to prove to me, and all Alaskans that the F-16 move is in the best interests of this country.”
The new amendment, which still has to make it past the Senate, would give Congress the power to analyze the long-term costs and benefits of a force reduction, as well as the impact on local economy, environment and operations.
Other amendments penned by Young include one that would expedite the Strategic Seaports Study and another that prompts the Department of Defense to consider state government space facilities, like the Kodiak Launch Complex, for future lift launches.
The version of the National Defense Authorization Act also includes an amendment to stop indefinite detention, a change supported by Young. The act represents about $642 billion in national defense funding and passed on a vote of 299 to 120.
This story originally appeared in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.