Last weekend, the Interior got a glimpse of our military’s airpower capabilities when Eielson Air Force Base hosted the Arctic Lightning Air Show. The people of Alaska had the opportunity to watch in awe as pilots and crews showcase the power, speed and agility of our country’s incredible aircraft. It’s always a spectacle that humiliates me as an American. While air shows are breathtaking displays of military might, they are also visual and visual reminders of what our servicemen do and what our servicemen need to protect us and our homeland.
As lead administrator, I am one of 30 senators with jurisdiction over discretionary spending – that is, “discretionary spending” – on defense. We are faced with questions such as whether to allocate money for planes like the F-22 and the F-35 or whatever. In fact, defense spending, of all spending, is arguably the most scrutinized and controversial. The choices I make on this committee are not easy, but I can assure you that when I choose to fund stealth planes, it is for good reason.
F-35s, such as those in the air show and stationed at Eielson, and F-22s, stationed at JBER, have real, real-time operational missions that have direct impacts on our national security. For example, the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone has seen more Russian fighter and bomber incursions in the past two years than at any time since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The planes stationed in Alaska are responsible for responding to these incursions and are doing so successfully. Everytime. Do we ever stop to wonder what it would be like if we didn’t have these planes? What if they weren’t stationed in Alaska?
Alaska is home to more fifth-generation aircraft than anywhere else in the world. From our point of view at the top of the world, we exist in close proximity not only to Russia, but to the entire Indo-Pacific sphere – a sphere plagued by the politics of the great powers and arguably the most conflict-prone. Around the same time last year, a Russian military exercise in the North Pacific, the largest of its kind since the Cold War, forced a US-based fishing fleet out of US waters. Who answered? Pilots stationed in Alaska. And in the South China Sea, where China continues to encroach on our allies and violate international standards while developing a fleet of its own stealth fighters, who would respond if military support was needed to defend Taiwan or support Japan? You probably saw some of them last weekend.
Admiral John Aquilino, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, recently testified before Congress that China may be ready to take Taiwan, a free society and a beacon of democracy, at the gates of China, within the next six years. Admiral Aquilino’s predecessor, Admiral Davidson, testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this year, asking for about $ 27 billion over the next five years to counter China and protect our allies across the country. Indo-Pacific region. It is a large number, but it is expenses that ensure the security of America and its interests.
Let me be perfectly clear, I have always advocated and will always advocate the use of diplomacy and other means of national power and influence to protect our nation and preserve the peace before resorting to conflict. I have advocated tirelessly to ensure that we maintain a strong diplomatic force and a global presence while harnessing the power of our natural resources. However, that doesn’t mean that we should avoid investing in the certainty that comes from knowing that should conflict ensue, our military – including the planes we fly, the pilots who fly them, the crews who fix them. and the training fields they use to hone their skills – are all the best in the world.
US Senator Lisa Murkowski has been a member of the Senate since December 2002.
By: Senator Lisa Murkowski
Fairbanks Daily News-miner