Begich stalls promotion over Eielson questions

FAIRBANKS — U.S. Sen. Mark Begich has stalled the promotion of an Air Force lieutenant general to express his frustration with a lack of answers about a proposed move of an Eielson Air Force F-16 base squadron.

Any senator can place a hold on a nominee. Begich halted the nomination process for Lt. Gen. Herbert J. Carlisle, who is being considered for promotion to four-star general and as Commander of Pacific Air Forces.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Begich, a member of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, says he’ll also place committee holds on any subsequent nominees for military leadership posts until he gets answers from the Department of Defense.

The Air Force in February announced a plan to relocate Eielson’s F-16 fighter plane squadron to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson outside Anchorage.

The move, part of a proposed realignment at 60 military installations around the U.S., would transfer roughly half of the 3,100 military and civilian jobs at Eielson.

Begich said he wants to hear what the specific impact of the move will be on civilian personnel and contractors at Eielson, see an analysis justifying the move to achieve cost savings and receive a task force report on relocating the squadron and its impacts on the community.

Begich said he’s made numerous requests for information justifying the proposed F-16 move, but has received almost nothing in return from the Department of Defense. He hopes stalling Carlisle’s nomination is a way to get the Pentagon’s attention.

“I’ve honestly kind of had it,” he said. “I decided enough was enough.”

The Air Force projects the move will save $32 million over five years, but hasn’t provided data showing how they arrived at those figures.

Begich said he knows and respects Carlisle and called him to explain his plans to halt the nomination. He said the move has nothing to do with his feelings about Carlisle, who once served as a commander at the Anchorage Air Force base.

“I think he understood our concerns,” Begich said.

Begich said he was contacted almost immediately by the Pentagon after requesting the hold, although he got no answers.

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