Interior Leaders meet with Secretary of the Air Force

FAIRBANKS, AK - The Secretary of the Air Force, Michael Donley, met with local leaders today at Eielson Air Force Base in regard to the proposed relocation of F–16 fighter jets from the Interior to Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson in Anchorage.

Media was not allowed to attend the meeting which took place early this morning, however, the Newscenter did speak with Fairbanks Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins following the event.

Hopkins said the secretary was responsive to their concerns regarding the economic impact such a move would create in the Interior.  However, Secretary Donley was frank in his resolve that the move was already decided upon as a cost–saving measure for the Air Force.

Hopkins said the Air Force intends to make the move over the next several fiscal years to eventually consolidate operations.

The mayor said a BRAC study completed in 2005 showed no real savings to the Air Force and Eielson was saved from closure.

So far, military officials have not said exactly how savings will be realized, even after local leaders reminded them of the 2005 study.

Of the exchange, Hopkins said, "These are our numbers and the Air Force will be saying after May 31st, these are our numbers and they're pretty strong on the point they expect it to work, but we haven't seen anything yet and still won't see anything until shortly after May 31st and then we'll see what happens."