Updates on Local Military Issues

There have been a lot of questions about the future of the military in Alaska.

While new jets are expected at Eielson air force base, there was talk at one point of moving a large number of troops from Fort Wainwright.

The Garrison Commander of Fort Wainwright says there will be more sharing with Fairbanks and other communities as the Army makes an effort to be more efficient due to reductions in its budget.

Colonel Sean Williams presented an address to the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce on the state of U-S Army Alaska.

He says that military Heads regard Fort Wainwright as the main contributor for Arctic military training in the nation.

Williams told chamber members that the Army is looking into integrating Fort Wainwright programs for emergency services, joint training, technology testing, and other initiatives with municipalities and state agencies.

Williams added that the initiatives will be a high priority at Fort Wainwright as the U-S Department of Defense adjusts military facilities in response to budget constraints.

Col. Williams said "Our overall army has seen tremendous reductions, and we may be facing more. If and when they do come, it once again gives us the opportunity to look at each other, reach out to the community, strengthen existing partnerships and forge new ones. Many of these programs are already in the works. Meanwhile, the joint armed services committee of the Alaska legislature received a report yesterday with Alaska military leaders delivering a state of defense to committee members."

On the potential bedding of two F-35 squadrons at Eielson Air Force Base, a lot of maintenance is done by contractors right now, and that has to be turned over to the Air Force. It is not a test of the planes anymore, they are being put into use.

Air Force Chief of Staff, General Mark Welsh, said "This isn't a power point program anymore... about a year from now we will have about a hundred F-35's on our air force inventory. We've already flown 45 thousand hours on this airplane, collectively."