Defending the Aggressors

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) met with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to discuss the Air Force’s proposed relocation of its F-16 aggressor squadron from Eielson Air Force Base to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Fiscal 2013. Begich has been against the move, saying it’s been handled so far as “kind of a back-door BRAC,” without public debate and a comprehensive cost analysis that weighs the affect on the joint force, not just the Air Force. “I appreciate the Secretary’s willingness to personally engage on the future of Eielson,” said Begich in a May 10 release, the same day as the meeting. “I’m committed to getting answers from the Pentagon, which so far have been inadequate at best.” To add leverage, Begich has placed on hold the Jan. 23 nomination of Lt. Gen. Hawk Carlisle to receive a fourth star for his new assignment as Pacific Air Forces commander. As of May 14, the hold was still in place, the Daily Report confirmed. Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Philip Breedlove told Begich at a Senate hearing last week that the Air Force would “re-look at the decision” to move the F-16s if “the savings don’t pan out” as more detailed analysis comes in.