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Alaska military installations will feel budget pinch, Begich warns

Alaska’s military installations will feel the pinch of federal budget cuts in the years ahead, but U.S. Sen. Mark Begich promised to ensure the state is treated fairly, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Because the congressional “supercommittee” failed to reach a deficit-reducing compromise, a $1.2 trillion package of automatic cuts is set to kick in during the next decade. Half should come from military spending, with the first cuts scheduled for early 2013.

“Do we worry about cuts? Yes,” said Begich, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Do we worry about unfair cuts? That’s what we want to watch out for.”

Alaska’s military installations have enduring budget cuts before. In 2005, Eielson Air Force Base narrowly escaped closure and an Air Force facility in Galena was closed.

Construction underway at Fort Greely and Clear Air Force Station helps shield those installations, Begich noted. “The amount of work begin done out there is pretty aggressive, and that’s a good sign for us,” he said.

Begich’s remarks came during an appearance at a local Subway restaurant, where he was promoting the Operation Yellow Ribbon campaign. The collaboration between Begich, Subway and the Armed Services YMCA has distributed about 25,000 yellow ribbons in the past week to honor deployed military service members, he said.