Squadron transfer will bring 125 personnel to JBER

Richard Mauer

The Air Force says the shift of the F-16 squadron from Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson would result in the addition of about 125 personnel to the Anchorage base.

The Air Force wants to move the squadron, with its 21 fighter jets, in fiscal year 2013 as part of a global effort to lower costs and increase efficiency.

Alaska's congressional delegation has opposed the move and legislators and Gov. Sean Parnell are also campaigning against it. They are concerned it could eventually lead to Eielson's mothballing.

Eielson and the Army's Fort Wainwright contribute about 35 percent to Fairbanks' economic activity, the Fairbanks Economic Development Corp. has estimated.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Air Force said the relocation to Anchorage is part of a broad worldwide strategic shift that will result in net reductions of 3,900 active duty airmen, 5,100 Air National Guardsmen and 900 Air Force Reserve positions.

"Working with our Guard and Reserve leaders, we used a balanced approach to adjust our total force end strength while maintaining the ability to execute strategic guidance," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, a former commander in Alaska, said in the statement. "Our total force programmed reductions follow detailed assessments of future conflict scenarios and rotational requirements consistent with the new strategic guidance."

The Air Force earlier had announced 220 civilian job cuts at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Reach Richard Mauer at rmauer@adn.com or 257-4345.

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