ALASKA’S MILITARY ASSETS COULD BE ON CHOPPING BLOCK
By CRAIG CAMPBELL
I’m not ready to accept that President Donald Trump did not win re-election.
I just can’t face what our state and nation will be like if Trump does not get another four years to crush the swamp and bring back that booming economy we all had just 10 months ago.
However, if I end up being wrong, Alaska is in for one hell of a bad time.
A Harris/Biden administration — my mistake, a Biden/Harris administration — will present historic challenges to Alaska. From working every angle to shut down petroleum exploration and development in Alaska, to hollowing out our military, our future does not bode well under Joe Biden’s “leadership.”
There is historical precedent. Jimmie Carter’s election in 1976 was a backlash against the Nixon/Ford presidencies. The nation was split and mad about almost everything. America wanted a period of peace and harmony. Jimmie Carter, a quiet Georgia Democrat governor with U.S. Navy experience, was the answer. Or so it seemed at the time.
During Carter’s one term in office, Americas faltered. Inflation spiraled out of control. A stagnant economy dragged down the middle class and increased poverty. An energy crisis hit in 1979 as foreign oil squeezed the U.S. market. Some readers remember those long lines at gas stations.
While Carter strived for détente with the Soviet Union, he was stupefied by their invasion into Afghanistan. He had no credible response to the Soviet Union’s expanded global sphere of influence.
In November of 1979, 66 Americans were taken hostage by radicals in Iran. Carter ordered the military to conduct a covert operation to rescue the hostages.
Called Operations Eagle Claw, it was a miserable failure, resulting in eight dead Americans in the Iranian desert, never reaching their intended objective to liberate the hostages.
With that segue, let’s consider some potential national defense impacts to Alaska under presumably (or at least as declared by the mainstream media) President-elect Biden.
I have met Joe Biden. I met him at the funeral for Senator Ted Stevens. He was a very likable guy, kind of shallow, but likable. He was a typical politician, with a big smile, lots of handshakes, and he just seemed friendly. That was then, this is now.
The Joe Biden of 2020 has been coopted by socialist progressives. His presidency will be a return to the Carter years. In Alaska, we should be prepared for an overt frontal attack on our state.
I’m not kidding. This is a Code Red Alert. We are about to face the biggest challenges to our prosperity and liberties in over 40 years.
One of the sectors of government to-be hit the hardest will be national defense. The Biden administration will use military funding to pay for new and expanded social programs and the Green New Deal.
How do I know this? Because that is exactly what the Obama/Biden administration did during their destructive years occupying the White House.
My critics will be quick to point out that the defense budget increased during the Obama era. They are partially correct. In 2010 and 2011 the defense budget increased; however it decreased every year thereafter.
The principle reason was the implementation of sequestration. Sequestration resulted from President Obama’s inability to reach budget agreements with the Republican Senate and Democrat House. Basically, Obama wanted to implement new taxes to pay for more government and was rebutted by Congress.
Sequestration was a bad idea that had terrible impacts on America. It arbitrarily cut the budgets across all discretionary accounts. The problem is, the military, homeland defense, and NASA budgets are discretionary; while Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and national health programs are non-discretionary funds (code for entitlements). Almost two-thirds of the federal budget is non-discretionary.
The military budget makes up approximately one half of all discretionary funds in the federal budget. Under Obama, the military took massive budget reductions while funding for social programs was preserved.
That was no accident; it was by design, and Joe Biden was part of the Obama Administration’s strategy team.
Biden has stated he will reduce the military budget. “The real question is not how much we invest — it’s how we invest,” he said, quoted by Military.com on Nov. 7, 2020.
Now, I do not expect another round of sequestration. That’s way too painful. Biden will simply cut the military budget to pay the entitlement bills.
Alaska has tremendous military assets, comprised of active duty, reserves, and the Alaska National Guard. They have some of the most modern equipment. F-22’s, C-17’s and combat search and rescue assets at JBER; F-35’s at Eielson Air Force Base; the nation’s Missile Defense System at Ft. Greely; Surveillance, tracking and early warning at Clear Air Force Base; and a mission-ready U.S Army Alaska that includes a Stryker Brigade, Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, and General Support Airborne Battalion. We also have Coast Guard Base Kodiak, which supports both the maritime cutter and airborne operations across the North Pacific Region.
With our strategic location, Alaska can ill-afford to undergo any military reductions. On the contrary, I would argue that the military presence in Alaska should be expanded.
As Billy Mitchell once said, “whoever holds Alaska will hold the world. I think it is the most important strategic place in the world.” That statement is truer today than ever before with our nuclear-powered adversaries Russia, China, and North Korea all in close proximity to our state posing significant tactical and strategic threats to America.
So back to the question, what will the impact be of a Biden administration cut to the military budget? Here is my prediction:
- Ft. Greely missile defense expansion will be reduced.
- U.S. Army Alaska will experience up to a 25% reduction in soldier strength.
- No additional U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers will be built.
- No upgraded air refueling tankers at Eielson AFB.
- Reduction of half the F-35’s programmed for Eielson AFB.
This would not be good for Alaska. It would cause further damage to our state’s economy. But more importantly, it would be terrible for America.
Joe Biden does not like Alaska. He is going to shut-down North Slope oil leases, he will enact strict environmental policies that punish mining development in our state, and he will look to Alaska as a bill payer for funding his progressive social programs. The current military structure in Alaska will just be too tempting for Joe to ignore.
We do have some leverage. With Sen. Dan Sullivan on the Senate Armed Services Committee and Sen. Lisa Murkowski on the Senate Appropriations Committee and Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, we have the best shot at stopping, or at least mitigating these damaging actions.
But America can ill-afford to have a misguided, progressive president cause damage to our nation’s defense simply to appease the socialist democrats’ quest to Make America Weak Again (MAWA).
Craig E. Campbell served on the Anchorage Assembly between 1986 and 1995 and later as Alaska’s Tenth Lieutenant Governor. He was the previous Chief Executive Officer and President for Alaska Aerospace Corporation. He retired from the Alaska National Guard as Lieutenant General (AKNG) and holds the concurrent retired Federal rank of Major General (USAF).