Thursday, January 17, 2013

Air Force sets meetings on proposed transfer of Eielson F-16s

FAIRBANKS—The Air Force plans to hold public meetings in the Fairbanks area and in Southcentral Alaska next month to prepare for an environmental analysis of its proposal to transfer Eielson Air Force Base's fighter squadron to a base in Anchorage, according to an Air Force notice filed Thursday to be published in the Federal Register today.

The purpose of the meetings is to get public comment to help determine the scope of the environmental analysis. The Air Force's proposal has drawn broad opposition from Fairbanks and state leaders, including from all three of Alaska's members of Congress.

Meetings will be held 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 4-5 in Anchorage and in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and Feb. 6-7 in Fairbanks and North Pole, according the Air Force notice. The notice says that specifics of the meetings, such as location, will be publicized at least 15 days prior to the meeting dates.

Under the proposal, 18 F-16s of the 18th Aggressor Squadron, and three backup F-16s, would move to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, along with 542 military positions. Eighty-one positions would be eliminated in the transfer, which would leave Eielson with 559 military personnel and 210 civilian personnel in fiscal 2015.

Air Force officials have said they can save $227 million over five years by moving the squadron, but the projected savings have become a serious area of dispute between defense officials and those opposed to the move.

Public comments about the planned environmental impact statement will be accepted either verbally or in writing at the meetings.


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