By Kyle Evans, Extreme Alaska
The last chance to voice your comments before the Environmental Impact Statement draft on Eielson’s F-16s relocation is March 1.
To submit written comments for consideration, mail them before March 1 to Mr. Allen Richmond, AFCEC/CZN, 2261 Hughes Ave, Ste. 155, Lackland AFB, TX 78236-9853. After March 1st a draft of the Environmental Impact Statement will be constructed followed by a 60 day public comment period. Then the final decision will be made and announced in the fall.
“The basis for the move is it’s a cost saving measure because we have congressionally mandated cost savings that everyone in the DOD [Department of Defense] has been required to try and realize and each service had to come up with some ways to possibly do that,” said Senior Master Sergeant Michael Hammond from the U.S. Pacific Base Headquarters. The proposition predicted that it would save the Air Force around 227 million dollars to help comply with the Budget Control Act.
Currently the proposal will transfer 18 F-16 aircraft from Eielson Air Force Base to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage. The move would terminate approximately 750 military and 180 civilian jobs at Eielson Air Force Base, reducing base operations to save money. “They’re talking about moving F-16s, pilots, support staff, other military personnel and some civilians,” said Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins.
The move also affects military power in the area. In a letter U.S. senator Mark Begich wrote to Mr. Richmond, he said, “Eielson Air Force Base is critical to the Department of Defense’s ability to project military power and rapidly deploy forces in support of contingencies and other operations around the globe.”
However, it is unknown exactly how the reduction in military personnel at Eielson AFB will affect the Fairbanks area and the state of Alaska. “We’re talking about schools we’re talking about not only jobs directly on base but all of those other jobs that support those jobs on base,” said Andrea Gusty of Senator Murkowski’s office. Visit http://www.keepthef16s.com/ for more information on this subject.