Anchorage gets federal grant to help plan for JBER troop cuts

WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department has awarded nearly $300,000 to the Municipality of Anchorage to help it determine the impacts of impending troop cuts at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

The grant follows an announcement in July that significant cuts will hit JBER as part of the Army's plans to slash 40,000 soldier positions nationwide.

The $273,452 provided by the Defense Department, in response to a request from Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, will be put toward crafting an economic analysis of the impacts of reducing JBER personnel and will go toward hiring a project coordinator.

Berkowitz formed his own economic review group to oppose the reductions and, if they occurred anyway, to mitigate economic impacts, and the coordinator will link the two projects.

Berkowitz spoke to the head of the Defense Department's Office of Economic Adjustment, Pat O'Brien, the day of the announcement. "I just wanted to make sure that the decisions we make, we make on quality information," he said at the time.

"We will continue working with the governor and our congressional delegation to halt these harmful cuts and reductions, but that will not stop us from properly planning for any potential economic setbacks," Berkowitz said Monday.

The largest swath of Army cuts in Alaska will be 2,631 troops from the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, known as the 4-25th, at JBER. Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks will also lose 73 soldiers.

The brigade combat team is a deployable maneuver unit, and the 4-25th was created in 2005. The Army said it will be converted into a "maneuver battalion task force" by the end of fiscal year 2017, lowering its troop count to 1,895 soldiers from about 4,600 soldiers.

Erica Martinson

Erica Martinson is Alaska Dispatch News' Washington, DC reporter, and she covers the legislation, regulation and litigation that impact the Last Frontier.  Erica came to ADN after years as a reporter covering energy at POLITICO. Before that, she covered environmental policy at a DC trade publication and worked at several New York dailies.