Subject: Senators introduced legislation on the 18th of May to postpone this BRAC for 2 years

From Senator Stevens Office

For Immediate Release
Contact: Courtney Boone, (202)224-1028
May 18, 2005

Stevens Supports Postponement of BRAC
Asks for BRAC Hearing in Fairbanks

Today, Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) joined Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) and co-sponsored legislation to postpone the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act, the BRAC, out of serious concern over the Secretary of Defense's recommendation to make Eielson Air Force Base a "warm base."

The postponement of the BRAC would require certain actions take place prior to the BRAC process restarting. The actions include a complete analysis, consideration and implementation of the Commission on Review of Overseas Military Facility Structure, the return from deployment in the Iraq theater of operations of substantially all (as determined by the Secretary of Defense) major combat units and assets of the Armed Forces; the receipt by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees of the quadrennial defense review that is to be submitted in 2006; the complete development and implementation of the National Maritime Security Strategy; and, the complete development and implementation of the Homeland Defense and Civil Support directive. Until these directives are met the BRAC will have no further force or effect.

"I am extremely concerned that the Secretary of Defense did not take into consideration the significant impact of leaving Alaska and our nation vulnerable to attack by realigning Eielson," stated Stevens.

"Having a significant military presence in the Interior is vital to keeping our nation protected from the north. Without Eielson we are not able to do that properly. I intend to find out why they thought it appropriate to let the refueling tankers have no protection, and why our nation should have inadequate protection in the north."

In addition to his support of this measure, Senator Stevens today wrote to BRAC Commission Chairman Anthony Principi regarding the "warm base" status of Eielson. Stevens expressed his concern about Alaska's security and the nation's defense by downgrading Eielson's status.

"Eielson's close proximity to vast airspaces and ranges provides an extremely valuable military asset to the Defense Department. Strategically, the location of the installations allows units based there to respond to contingencies in Europe faster than units at bases on the East Coast. The same is true for the Pacific Theater. Eielson units can deploy to Korea more expeditiously than many of the units based in California," stated Stevens in his letter to Principi.

Stevens also requested that the Commission hold hearings in Fairbanks in order to evaluate the proposed recommendation, "due to the high military value of Eielson Air Force is imperative for the commission to demonstrate the recommendation was based on the criteria set out in law and the force structure plan." The BRAC Commission has stated that they will hold a hearing in Fairbanks on June 15, 2005.

A full text of the letter to Chairman Principi is attached.