Gov. Sean Parnell is preparing to ask the state Legislature, currently in session, to appropriate funds to lobby on behalf of Alaska's military bases as the federal government begins considering another round of base realignment and closure (BRAC).
A statement from the governor's office Friday acknowledges recent announcements by President Obama and Department of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on military realignment over the next decade. The broad Pentagon strategy to reduce military spending is consistent with negotiations in Congress to sharply reduce the nation's budget deficit, which has recently grown as high as the U.S. gross domestic product, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska's senior senator, notes here.
Failure of the congressional 'supercommittee' to coalesce around national budget reduction policies last year triggered future, across-the-board U.S. military spending cuts to the tune of about a half-trillion dollars. But even with these cuts, as an in-depth Vanity Fair analysis notes, U.S. military spending will only "shrink" to 2007 levels -- near the apex of the so-called War on Terror.
In the statement, Parnell announced he'd request $300,000 from state lawmakers to hire a consulting firm, which would lobby Congress and the Pentagon against any future troop reductions or base realignments impacting Alaska.
Federal deficits aside, the military's presence in Alaska accounts for about 10 percent of the state's economy, according to the statement.
Whether Alaska would be in serious consideration of losing a base or significant troop numbers is far from clear. Pentagon bureaucracy points to Asia as presenting the most serious threats to U.S. national security in the coming decades. Few states are better positioned to defend the homeland from Asian threats, Parnell notes, than Alaska.