Murkowski says sequestration jeopardizing national defense

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base. A proposal earlier this year would have moved the squadron to Anchorage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Araos)

The country could face a second round of automatic budget cuts if Congress can’t agree on a spending plan by year’s end.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said at hearing on Wednesday that the sequestration cuts already imposed on the Pentagon  are throwing the military off its geostrategic goals.

“Mr. Chairman, I’m so concerned that in an effort to chase the dollars, in an effort to drive down  the costs we’re putting our country, we are putting our national defense in jeopardy because decisions are being driven by sequestration and we’re not keeping our eye on the bigger picture,” Murkowski said.

The Alaska Republican said the Air Force’s recently shelved plan to move F-16s fighter jets out Eielson Air Force Base was an example of putting cost-cutting above defense strategy.

Among the unmet needs, Murkowski said, is new rescue helicopters for the Alaska Air National Guard.

Military service chiefs said last week that sequestration is forcing them to cut programs that will ultimately leave the country less prepared to counter global adversaries.

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