Without adequately providing for the defense of our nation, the U.S. will cease to be the beacon of freedom we are today. In these times of global threats—be it a resurgent Russia, a growing Chinese military, an unpredictable North Korea, or Islamic extremists, the United States military must be trained, equipped, and ready to defend our interests around the world. One of Congress’s most sacred responsibilities is to “provide for the common defense of our nation,” and I will do all I can in Congress to achieve this end.
As the most strategic place in the world, Alaska plays a significant role in ensuring a strong national defense. This fact was true when General Billy Mitchell testified to that fact in 1933, and it remains true today. Alaska offers unique and unparalleled training areas, including the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex. While ranges in the Lower 48 are parts of states, JPARC’s training areas are the size of states, providing 65,000 square miles of unencumbered air space (Florida), 2,490 square miles of land space (Delaware), and 42,000 square nautical miles of surface, subsurface, and overlying airspace over the Gulf of Alaska (Virginia).
Support for Alaska-based service members, their families, and veterans runs deep within Alaska’s DNA. We as Alaskans pride ourselves in the strong relationship we share for our Alaska-based military members.
I have long supported bringing the F-35s to Eielson AFB, not only for the positive economic impacts they will bring to our state, but for the critical mission the F-35s will serve. No other location in the world offers the strategic value in Alaska, and the Air Force has recognized that. This beddown works to protect our national security, accomplishes a mission achieved nowhere else in the world, and ensures the nation has the assets and capabilities available in the time of need. I’m proud to have played a role in this beddown process, having secured language in each of the last two National Defense Authorization Acts that emphasized Alaska’s immense military value and the benefits Eielson offers the Air Force – an action recognized by the Fairbanks North Star Borough. As the Congressman for All Alaska, I will continue to will work with my colleagues to ensure that the F35 program, and the funding needed to beddown two squadrons of F-35s at Eielson AFB, receives the support it needs in Congress.
4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Airborne) at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
I strongly opposed the Army’s decision to reduce Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson’s 4-25 BCT (A) to a battalion task force—a reduction of nearly 3,000 soldiers. I, along with the rest of the Alaska Delegation, spoke directly with senior Defense officials, including a personal conversation with Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy, to fight these cuts. I also sent several letters to the Departments of Defense and the Army both challenging this decision and also seeking more information on how this decision was reached.
Given the Army’s decision to delay this reduction, it is clear that the Army has heard our message. This announcement was great news for both Alaska and the nation, but we must not rest on our laurels. I will continue to fight to ensure this reduction is permanently overturned so JBER’s 4-25 can continue its status as the only airborne brigade in the Pacific. I remain vigilant and continue to work to build certainty for our communities and military families through legislation I cosponsored, the POSTURE Act, which would set Army force structure numbers to levels that adequately reflect the global threat environment.