Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Alaska Governor Sean Parnell Recommends Moving F-16s from Spangdahlem AB To Eielson AFB

On February 12th, 2013, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell revealed that he sent a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force, Michael B. Donley, recommending that an F-16 squadron currently based at Spangdahlem AB, Germany be relocated to Eielson AFB in an attempt to make keeping the existing F-16s at Eielson a more viable option. Parnell suggested retaining the 18th Aggressor Squadron at Eielson and relocating the 24 F-16 aircraft and associated personnel of the 480th Fighter Squadron from Spangdalehm AB to become part of the 354th Fighter Wing at Eielson.

In his letter, Parnell says that this move would confer three benefits. First, it would eliminate the operational costs of maintaining two separate single squadron wings; second, it would reduce costs to the Air Force by reducing overseas basing costs in Germany; and finally, it would leverage the benefits of USAF's planned expansion of the Joint Pacific Air Range (JPARC) adjacent to Eielson for the benefit of the 480th Fighter Squadron.

During an editorial board meeting with the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Governor Parnell added that he also wants to make the case to the military that Alaska has been a supportive location for troops during a stressful decade of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Alaska has been affected more than most states by those wars, he said, because Stryker and Airborne troops have been on heavy deployment rotations

Although the Department of the Air Force estimates they can save $227 million over five years by relocating the F-16s to JBER, there are three strikes against the proposal. First, it puts too many of our eggs in one basket; second, the Anchorage housing market may be too tight to accommodate the estimated 1,500 military and civilian personnel to be relocated; and finally, it could make Anchorage's airspace too crowded.

There has been strong support for keeping the F-16s at Eielson. Both Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski are fighting the proposed relocation, and the News-Miner has editorially supported keeping the F-16s in place. The website serves as an additional clearinghouse of information. This slash-and-burn mentality is getting out of control; not everything can be measured by a dollar sign. Saving $227 million of chump change over a five-year period is not worth jeopardizing our capability to defend the American homeland. If we're so interested in reducing the defense budget, how about we quit rampaging all over the world imposing "democracy" on everyone at gunpoint? Trying to turn Taliban fanatics in Afghanistan into human beings is like trying to put lipstick on a pig; when all is said and done, you still have a pig.

Millions for defense, but not one cent for imperialism.

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