Legislature(1999 - 2000)
03/09/1999 04:30 PM MLV
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON MILITARY AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS March 9, 1999 4:30 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Lisa Murkowski, Chair Representative Jeannette James Representative Gail Phillips Representative Pete Kott Representative Richard Foster MEMBERS ABSENT Representative John Coghill, Vice Chair Representative Sharon Cissna Representative Eric Croft COMMITTEE CALENDAR * HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 21 Relating to new evaluation and selection criteria for military base realignment and closure actions. - MOVED HJR 21 OUT OF COMMITTEE CONFIRMATION HEARINGS: Commissioner, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Adjutant General, Alaska National Guard Phillip Oates, Brigadier General - CONFIRMATION ADVANCED Brigadier General, Alaska Air National Guard George Cannelos, Colonel - CONFIRMATION ADVANCED (* First public hearing) PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HJR 21 SHORT TITLE: MILITARY BASE REALIGNMENT/CLOSURE ACTIONS SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVES(S) MULDER Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 2/26/99 323 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 2/26/99 324 (H) MLV, STA 3/09/99 (H) MLV AT 4:30 PM SENATE FINANCE 532 WITNESS REGISTER REPRESENTATIVE ELDON MULDER Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 507 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-2647 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified as sponsor of HJR 21. CHRIS NELSON, Staff to Senator Tim Kelly; and Staff Director, Joint Committee on Military Bases in Alaska Alaska State Legislature Goldstein Building 130 Seward Street, Suite 220 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-3865 POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions relating to HJR 21. PHILLIP OATES, Brigadier General Adjutant General/Commissioner Designee Department of Military and Veterans Affairs P.O. Box 5800 Fort Richardson, Alaska 99505-0800 Telephone: (907) 428-6003 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HJR 21; during confirmation hearing, discussed his vision for the department. GEORGE CANNELOS, Colonel Alaska Air National Guard Department of Military and Veterans Affairs P.O. Box 5800 Fort Richardson, Alaska 99505-0800 Telephone: (907) 428-6072 POSITION STATEMENT: During confirmation hearing, discussed his background and vision; answered questions. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 99-4, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIR LISA MURKOWSKI called the House Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs meeting to order at 4:30 p.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives Murkowski, James, Phillips, Kott and Foster. HJR 21 - MILITARY BASE REALIGNMENT/CLOSURE ACTIONS CHAIR MURKOWSKI announced the first order of business would be House Joint Resolution No. 21, relating to new evaluation and selection criteria for military base realignment and closure actions. Number 037 REPRESENTATIVE ELDON MULDER, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor, explained that HJR 21 focuses on recommendations to Congress about future rounds of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). It is a by-product of efforts with the task force of military bases in Alaska last year, and there is a companion resolution in the Senate [sponsored by Senator Tim Kelly, who along with Representative Mulder co-chairs the legislature's Joint Committee on Military Bases]. Representative Mulder read from the sponsor statement, with comments, as follows: This resolution asks the leaders of the federal government to reform the selection and evaluation criteria used in any future military base closure actions. Previous BRAC commissions allowed each of the military services to develop categories for its own bases and then evaluate and rank their bases, applying criteria established by the Department of Defense and Congress. Under these single-service evaluations, the concerns of individual services often overshadowed total force considerations. This process also seriously shortchanged Alaska's bases. Strategic location and established Army-Air Force compatibility, our bases' strongest points, were not fully recognized, while their high cost in relation to other bases, which is, by the way, our weakest point, was overemphasized. Consequently, many of Alaska's bases did not score very well under the old categorization or ranking. House Joint Resolution 21 calls for the President, the Secretary of Defense and Congress to establish Joint Cross-Service Groups this year to study the issues which shape our Armed Forces in the twenty-first century: power projection and deployment, joint training, joint operations and total force considerations. These Joint Cross-Service Groups will then develop a new evaluation and selection criteria and procedures for future BRAC commissions to ensure that total force and power projection factors receive increased consideration in future base closure decisions. REPRESENTATIVE MULDER told members that he and Representative Phillips had the privilege of visiting with the Secretary of Defense in Alaska a couple of weeks before; they had discussed this very point, which the Secretary of Defense had believed to be pertinent. Representative Mulder pointed out that the Secretary of Defense is from Maine, a state with considerations similar to Alaska's. For example, Maine has high costs, while strategic location and coordination of effort are important to them. Representative Mulder said Chris Nelson could answer questions about the BRAC process. Number 111 CHAIR MURKOWSKI asked whether Representative Mulder is looking for the new Joint Cross-Services Group to come up with brand-new criteria, including those stated in HJR 21, or whether it is an add-on to criteria used in previous realignments. REPRESENTATIVE MULDER said the categorizations need to be re-prioritized but also somewhat refocused. The highest criteria in the past has been cost, the state's weakest consideration. To his knowledge, a total force concept hasn't been fully utilized as a criteria. He deferred to Mr. Nelson for a more thorough answer. Number 134 CHRIS NELSON, Staff to Senator Tim Kelly; and Staff Director, Joint Committee on Military Bases in Alaska, Alaska State Legislature, explained that the idea of the Joint Cross-Service Groups was recommended by the 1993 BRAC Commission. Within the overall framework of the BRAC structure, from the "BRAC rounds" in 1991, 1993 and 1995, there have been adjustments based on their experiences. The 1993 BRAC Commission said that in the next round, [the Department of Defense] should look at some areas, primarily in the support arena, where the services could consolidate and save money; examples include undergraduate flight training, depots and laboratories. The Joint Cross-Service Groups met on each of these categories and came up with recommendations, some of which were adopted by the 1995 BRAC Commission. MR. NELSON pointed out that when Fort Richardson is compared only to other Army maneuver bases, it cannot now get credit for the joint mobility complex, the most modern, well-thought-out power projection facility in the world, to send soldiers to combat areas overseas; this is because it sits on the Elmendorf Air Force Base half of the reservation. The Army has no way in its evaluation system to weight that as an asset for Fort Richardson, yet no other base in the Army comes close to having a facility of deployment and power projection facility that modern. Mr. Nelson stated, "That's why we're talking about total force considerations and trying to build some criteria, so that those things will get noticed." MR. NELSON said right now there are only two areas where joint considerations enter into the BRAC process. After the services come up with their lists and evaluations of bases, then the regional Commander in Chief (CINC) for Alaska, which would be the Commander in Chief, Pacific (CINCPAC), looks at it and offers input; then the Secretary of Defense himself looks at it. Those are the two high-echelon reviews of total force considerations. MR. NELSON concluded: "What we're asking for is that you begin the process, looking at total force consideration. Total force should be the building block that we're looking at all future BRAC actions on. We're ten years past the end of the Cold War. We have changed, in this period of time, from a forward-deployed force based primarily overseas to a power projection force based within our own borders. And when we talk about the force structure-base structure interaction, you say, 'Well, we've reduced the force structure, so we need to reduce the base structure.' That's true as far as it goes. But we have to look at the base structure, because we haven't changed our base structure to reflect the fact that we're now a power projection force. ... Previous BRAC rounds in 1991, '93, '95 did not do that. ... That's where we're trying to go on this." Number 193 CHAIR MURKOWSKI asked whether the idea in HJR 21 is unique to Alaska. MR. NELSON indicated Alaska would be the first, but he was sure there would be support from elsewhere. He noted that some states would not evaluate as well if they look at total force; those states prefer that the system remain as it is, as high operating costs in Alaska would put Alaska bases lower on the ladder. Alaska has been shortchanged in the analyses used in the prior BRAC rounds. Mr. Nelson concluded, "We're saying that if there is a BRAC 2001, it has to look at the base structure of the total force, not the base structure of the individual service." Number 216 PHILLIP OATES, Brigadier General, Adjutant General/Commissioner Designee, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, came forward to testify. He told members: I would like to applaud the resolution. In fact, it's so good, I wish I'd written it myself; it's truly at the graduate level. ... It argues exactly what our country needs, not just a parochial argument for Alaska. Our country needs to think in terms of joint capabilities that include both the active and the reserve components, and the guard. And by supporting this resolution, we are providing a very, very good model to the Secretary of Defense when the BRAC process comes. In our meeting with the Secretary of Defense, when he came to Alaska, he was very convincing in his argument that BRAC will come sometime in the future. He talked about the impact on communities, and we sat and listened to him - ... Representative Mulder, Representative Phillips - and he talked about the need for adjusting the impact on rural communities. However, we also talked about the need to ... do things that were most effective for our Armed Services. And this does what is most effective for our Armed Services, and oh, by the way, recognizes the strengths that Alaska has to offer. So, I applaud this resolution. Number 240 REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER made a motion to move HJR 21 out of committee with individual recommendations and the attached zero fiscal note. There being no objection, HJR 21 moved from the House Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs. CONFIRMATION HEARINGS Next on the agenda were confirmation hearings for two appointees. Resumes were provided in committee packets. Commissioner, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Adjutant General, Alaska National Guard Number 245 PHILLIP OATES, Brigadier General, Adjutant General/Commissioner Designee, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, came forward. CHAIR MURKOWSKI asked Brigadier General Oates what his vision is for the department, and what he would like to see as commissioner. BRIGADIER GENERAL OATES stated: Now that I've been acting in the job for some 45 days, I think I've got a little better grasp on a vision ahead, and I think it's very important, not only for Alaska but also for our Department of Defense. There are really two aspects to this job, on the state side and on the federal side, but let me talk with the military aspects of it first. We call it the Alaska National Guard, not the National Alaska Guard, because our first responsibility is to our state. We have to be ready to perform those missions that our elected representatives and our commander in chief call on us to do. And that, in this state, deals first with responding to disasters, anywhere that they may happen in the state. And in Alaska, as you know better than me, it's not a question of if a disaster will occur; it's a question of when that disaster will occur. ... And homeland defense now is taking on a bigger context, as we look at incidents of terrorism, such as the Sarin gas attack that happened in Tokyo on the subway, or the bombing in Oklahoma City. And we have to have forces and homeland defense that deal with those acts of terrorism, or accidents, especially when you're thinking in terms of weapons of mass destruction: nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. In fact, we are in the process of fielding a team to deal with the early detection and reaction to any weapons of mass destruction use in our state of Alaska. So, that's an important goal, and one aspect of homeland defense. Also, homeland defense continues scenarios such as our drug suppression efforts. It's a very, very important activity ... we participate in as guards members. Our guards members are not the individuals that go down and conduct the raids, but we are the ones that facilitate ... the flow of information and communication and coordination with all the disparate local, state and federal agencies that deal with drugs and drug suppression and drug education. We also bring resources to those efforts; when those state, local or federal agencies need resources such as military equipment, we can provide that and then operate in direct support. And when you look at crime rates in the state, or in the nation, your effectiveness in dealing with the drug problem has a direct impact on your crime rates that you experience. The more success you have in keeping drugs out of our state, the lower the crime rate is. So, the guard plays a very big role in that (indisc.). Then our [Challenge Youth] Program, where we educate [at-risk] individuals, is vitally important. We're taking young men and young women, and putting them on a path where they can not only be productive members of society and Alaska, they can be our future members of the guard. That program, I would invite all of you to come down and see that graduation, to see what we do with those young men and women, and see the impact that it has ... on our nation and our state. ... I've stirred in my talk about drugs and about kids because that's homeland defense; that's the front lines, keeping drugs ... out of our state. But also, homeland defense extends into other areas. On the air guard side, we are moving ahead to take over the mission of air defense and air sovereignty in Alaska, take over the NORAD [North American Air Defense Command] mission here, because that is homeland defense; take over the manning of Clear Air Station for a space command, because that relates to homeland defense, in the detection and tracking of space objects. The Army is moving ahead with a role in ballistic missile defenses. The Army guard will man those ground-based interceptor sites when they come; and they will come, and they will come to Alaska, because we have to protect all 50 states, and you can't do that from anywhere else. And then we have other missions that will continue for our nation, a readiness ... to respond to any contingencies that happen in the Pacific, most notably in Korea. We have in the air guard, the 168th, the aerial refueling unit, and they provide the aerial refueling bridge for all of our nation's forces that flow to the Pacific, and flow through Alaska, the NORTHPAC [North Pacific] route, ... for that war, if it were to happen. And I can't tell you how vital that is to our nation, our Department of Defense, our Air Force, and to our forces in Alaska. Number 320 We've got a tactical C-130 unit, the 176th, that (indisc.) directly to Pacific air forces, if we go to war in the Pacific; so they have to be ready every day. We've got the 206th Combat Comm [Communications] Squadron; it's responsible to provide communications to any air expeditionary force, or any joint force that flows from Alaska. We've got the Rescue Coordination Center, named the best in the Air Force this last year, that saves one life a day, on an average over time - one life a day. ... What a magnificent accomplishment. And these are warriors. They're out there training in conditions tougher than I have experienced in my 30-year military career in airborne (indisc.). And they're just magnificent in their ability to accomplish ... that mission. And then we extend out into the rural communities with our Alaska Natives. We extend out into 84 communities in Alaska, and we have to increase our efforts there. ... We need to come up with legislation that will allow us to recruit and retain and make members of our Native communities able to join and be successful in our Alaska guard. And I think the Joint Armed Services Committee that was talked about earlier could play a big role in ... those areas, could play a big role in the larger defense areas, could play a big role in the education of our youth, and to making the guard a very, very strong member in the Department of Defense. So, I've talked about a lot of things here, but I'd like to go back to my opening comment: We're the Alaska National Guard, because our first duty is to Alaska, to the members of the guard, the citizens of this state, and our homeland defense role. Now, the other aspects of the department on the commissioner's side, emergency services, and if you ask, do I have a priority, yes, I do, and it's to be ready in emergency services, to respond to the emergencies as they occur in this state, and as we need funding from higher sources, from federal sources, to be able to deal with disasters, and then to be able to, on the front end, to do preventive things, to plan for those disasters when they occur, and those emergencies when they occur, to be able to respond with the commercial, the local, the state, the guard, the federal forces from FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] and others, and then to do the mitigation, the recovery, and make sure we get the funding to help us in disasters - enormous responsibility, and one that I don't take lightly. And then, finally, our responsibility as stewards of the resources that you give us: I have to do a job of officially managing the money that you give me, to make sure I get the best return on our investment. I need to "grow" the return that we give to this state. And you might say that an $8 million state expenditure to bring in $160 million is a pretty good return. And I would agree with you, but I think there are more resources out there that we can get. And so, when you ask me my goals, they are many. Will I achieve all of them? No, I won't, but I'll sure make a good run at them. Thank you very much. Number 370 REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER commended Brigadier General Oates for his dedication over 30 years. He then made a motion to advance the confirmation of Brigadier General Oates to the joint session of the House and Senate. There being no objection, the confirmation was advanced. BRIGADIER GENERAL OATES thanked the committee, then commended Chair Murkowski for leading 21 legislators, possibly a record attendance for any major military exercise, out to the field that coming Thursday. He also thanked Representatives Phillips and Mulder for attending the Challenge Youth Program graduation, saying, "It may be our biggest contribution, is what we do for those young people." CHAIR MURKOWSKI told Brigadier General Oates the committee was honored to have him there. REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS extended her congratulations and thanks, as well. She emphasized how impressed she and Representative Mulder were when they attended the Challenge Youth Program graduation ceremonies. She said it is an excellent program, and they will do their part to make sure they keep it going. Brigadier General, Alaska Air National Guard Number 419 GEORGE CANNELOS, Colonel, Alaska Air National Guard, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, came forward. He distributed an article titled, "Rescue Force," relating to a rescue by the Alaska Air National Guard's 210th Rescue Squadron's para-rescue jumpers. An Alaskan since 1975, he told members he came to Juneau to work for the Department of Community and Regional Affairs after a four-year career in the Navy and graduate school, then moved to Anchorage in 1978; that is when he discovered the Alaska Air National Guard, "a well-kept secret." He joined, and he has flown around the world as a navigator and air crew member. He led forces into Somalia over Christmas in 1992, commanded the squadron after that, then came to the headquarters and became the state director of operations and chief of staff. COLONEL CANNELOS noted that for most of those years, he was a classic traditional guardsman, with a family and a different career; only in the past two-and-a-half years has he gone full time. On the civilian side, he has worked in over 50 communities statewide, and he lived in rural Alaska for a time, as well. He stated, "I hope I bring a depth to this position that I think will be put to good use." COLONEL CANNELOS discussed his vision for the organization. He told members that Alaska has a very good air guard now. It is unusual in the country; most states have single-scope organizations, with one flying squadron detached from the Air Force and little interaction. He noted that among the reserve services, the Air Force and air guard have done it best. In Alaska, because of the strategic importance of the state, because of the proximity of Elmendorf and the air guard, and because both sides have worked so hard to integrate the missions, neither service can do its work without the other. Colonel Cannelos mentioned Eielson Air Force Base and the necessity of using the air guard's aerial refuelers. He stated, "The fighters could not launch without our combat rescue forces on alert. Our air lifters, as General Oates said, are tied right into the Pacific air forces and their plans. It's a very, very good system, and we work hard ... to make it better." COLONEL CANNELOS said they have also worked hard over the years to acquire missions with direct state benefits, such as the C-130 air lifters used in emergencies and for events like Operation Santa Claus. They are involved in missions such as "innovative readiness training" and "Arctic care" in the villages. He emphasized the need to look for ways to use these resources, which are paid for by federal dollars, to provide better benefits to the state and communities. He stated, "I look for a partnership with this committee to look for good ideas, into how we can better do that." COLONEL CANNELOS pointed out that currently there are 2,000 men and women in the organization, two-thirds of whom are traditional guard members. He stated, "We've got some very special opportunities. General Oates talked about the ... NORAD mission in Alaska and the space mission at Clear. And those are two examples where the Air Force, in this time of reorganization and downsizing the military, has approached us with taking over those missions. Clear is an excellent example where currently about 140 or so ... largely single young military members rotate in and out of that facility, that come and go year after year. They do a very good job, but they're largely insular. They don't contribute to the regional economy very much. They don't add value to the community, if you will." COLONEL CANNELOS continued, "If the air guard had Clear, it's my view that ... we could have families there, living in that Interior area, from Nenana to Healy to Fairbanks, Anderson. And because up to 40 of them would be highly trained space operators, if you will, in my view, again, with a partnership with the state, that's a catalyst for the Fairbanks area, for the nation's space industry, partnerships with the university; it all starts to add together. So, I want to look for opportunities where we're in partnership with the state, we can 'grow' the guard in meaningful ways." Number 476 COLONEL CANNELOS told members the article he had distributed shows the caliber of the young men and women in the Alaska Air National Guard. He stated, "The most sobering aspect of this position is how to inspire and motivate and lead these fabulous people. I had a physical Saturday morning at Kulis, and most of the folks that were doing probing and prodding were traditional guardsmen. I asked them: What did they do for a living? One young lady is training to be an Anchorage firefighter. One young man works at McLaughlin Youth Center counseling troubled teens. One young woman runs a day care center. And another is going after her master's degree is social work and law. And those were the first four I talked to. It's an incredible organization." Number 488 CHAIR MURKOWSKI asked what opportunities Colonel Cannelos sees to encourage recruitment in rural Alaska. COLONEL CANNELOS replied: That is the question of the day. If I only look at the air side, it's a challenge. ... Every one of the members of the air guard maintains (indisc.--coughing) every member in the Air Force, despite the fact that we do it on a part-time basis and they do it full time. So, it means that our folks have to be present for duty quite often. And the old paradigm of "a weekend a month and two weeks a year" is pretty much going away, and our folks are doing much more than that on a regular basis. And we need to be honest with our recruits that that's now an expectation. That puts an added stress ... on the "can you balance your family and your civilian employment and your military career," keep all that going together. Another dimension of this is transportation. We do fly, on a regular basis, to the Kenai Peninsula, up to Fairbanks, and on occasion out to the big delta to bring our folks in to drill. And that allows people who don't live in Anchorage and Fairbanks to be able to participate. But ... the challenge of cost-effectively going out every month to Bethel or Nome or Kotzebue, or down here to Southeast, so far we haven't found a cost-effective way to do that. And we're unfortunately not at the point where we can do a lot of drill training via computers and long-distance, in the in-between stages. However, the Army guard and the air guard have taken some good steps. We have linked our drill schedules together, so that we in the air side can fly Army folks in and out; that's a step in the right direction. And like General Oates, I would very much like to "grow" the rural areas. ... I encourage you, as you can, to visit the rural armories. ... It's an extraordinary challenge to effectively have quality training in these rural areas when you only have five to ten people per armory meeting on the weekends. The Army guard has a tremendous challenge ahead of it. Part of it is the equation of, "what is the relevant federal mission?" Without that, there's nothing. And the Army guard has made great strides to obtain relevant missions after the Cold War, and they're working towards air-based perimeter defense and other things. So, that's part of the equation, too. I know the force dropped. They went from about a hundred villages down to about 75 villages, and that was due partially to the mission going away. ... And that's a BRAC, and that's, frankly, what the resolution would come up with. You should view each of those village armories as a mini-base, because in their own way, they contribute to those local economies, like Fort Richardson contributes to Anchorage. So, please don't forget those as you think about BRAC and the future of the military in this state. No solutions, but that's some of my thoughts. Number 521 REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS asked how many of the 2,000 Alaska Air National Guard members are from Anchorage and Fairbanks. COLONEL CANNELOS replied, "Because of the location of our flying squadrons, they are mostly from Anchorage and Fairbanks. There are some from the Kenai Peninsula, some from Delta and outlying areas around Fairbanks. Very few, frankly, from the rural areas; it's just too hard to get them back and forth, so far." REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS asked whether Colonel Cannelos sees a problem in today's society with employers' letting members off of work in order to come in for training or maneuvers, for example. COLONEL CANNELOS answered that it is a very important issue. Formerly led by Governor Sheffield, there is a strong statewide group of active businessmen and women called the "Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR)"; the recently announced leader of that organization is Jim Campbell. That organization advocates on behalf of guard members with employers to work out these problems. Colonel Cannelos pointed out that guard members have a responsibility to give advance notice to employers, for example, which most do. However, if that is not happening, the ESGR ombudsman can step in. COLONEL CANNELOS expressed concern that as the Air Force migrates towards the air expeditionary force (AEF) concept, the guard will be asked to step up to increasingly more rotations. If a traditional guard member is asked to do a lengthy deployment more than once a year, for example, that causes stress to an employer. "We do need to look at that," he added. Number 541 REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER commended Colonel Cannelos on his 30 years of service, noting that it included combat time. Referring to the extensive resume, he asked how many jobs Colonel Cannelos has now. COLONEL CANNELOS responded, "I have a business license now that says 'Cannelos Group,' but I haven't used it for quite some time, and don't plan to. This is absolutely full time." CHAIR MURKOWSKI asked whether there were further questions; there were none. Number 550 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES made a motion to advance the confirmation of Colonel Cannelos to the joint session of the House and Senate. There being no objection, the confirmation was advanced. ADJOURNMENT There being no further business before the committee, the House Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs meeting was adjourned at 5:20 p.m.