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Duffy says farewell to JBER, Alaska

By Air Force Col. Brian Duffy | JBER and 673d ABW commander | June 26, 2014

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — Arctic Warriors,

As my family and I prepare to bid our farewell in the next few days, I'd like to express my sincere appreciation for your tireless and dedicated efforts. It was an honor to serve with you all while operating on and supporting the many missions and people of the Pacific Air Force's largest, most diverse joint base.

As a direct result of your demonstrated leadership, we stand as a model for how joint basing can work and is working. The success is both founded and seen in many areas. We operated many services "jointly" before joint basing was envisioned, namely fire emergency services and many of our medical services.

We live, work, and play on a contiguous land mass with a single fence line and the notion of "distances" between our installation's long ago, former independent elements, are quickly fading.

Our housing areas are blending to a greater degree than ever before, and we recently began our new combined, Joint Newcomers' Orientation Sessions, ensuring all newly arriving service members and families are introduced to the "JBER Community" from day one.

We've amended our installation access procedures, providing greater visibility into who's coming on the base and why. In the first year, we limited access to almost a thousand people with demonstrated histories of criminal conduct.

We've taken our monthly Community Action Council to a new level, alternating venues on the installation every other month, to help attract and inform our very diverse population.

We're sharing Enlisted Professional Military Education experiences through an agreement between our two outstanding commandants, cross-pollinating top graduates to audit their sister services' program. We continue to build tactically and technically proficient joint enlisted leaders early in their careers.

We move people and equipment daily through our Joint Mobility Center, in response to training requirements of the needs of combatant commanders across the globe. We're strengthening our joint venture with the Veteran's Administration and growing our relationship with the Alaska Area Native Health Services, providing health care to a very deserving population.

These are just a few examples of many out there that have this installation - our combined team - in the forefront of the minds and words of people who speak of the successes of joint basing. Simply awesome.

These successes notwithstanding, we've certainly endured our share of challenges, but we have and will continue to work through each. We've stood up our Joint Wellness Action Council to help guide our efforts in support of our combined Comprehensive Airmen Fitness and Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness programs, launching our very own "Soldier and Airmen" fitness page, accessible from our JBER home page, which outlines programs and services available.

We've combined efforts under JBADD to ensure, if all else fails, our dedicated team of volunteers are able to provide a safe trip home to those whose primary plan got off track.

We conducted a very successful "Thanks for Asking" campaign, testing the limits of our Bystander Intervention Program and inviting our team to take action when there are obvious signs that "something is different."

We've seen our dedicated and professional civilian teammates endure the adverse effects of two furloughs and a government shutdown, more than any of us would've expected to have to deal with. We're working through force management programs now as our Air Force adjusts in one of the only ways it can, to our new fiscal realities, while preserving near term readiness and weapons system procurement actions critical to our future. With your collective help and leadership, I remain confident we will continue to move forward.

Finally, a note to our community partners in the greater Anchorage area and across Alaska. You've opened your arms to our service members and their families, helping them feel welcome in their new home, and provided myriad forms of support during their stay. For this, we are truly thankful and greatly appreciate all "The Last Frontier" has and continues to provide.

Joint basing is a journey, founded in transparency, trust, and time ... and, now over four years in, we are hitting our stride, moving diligently toward becoming exactly what was envisioned when this concept was first developed. We have the mission focus, extraordinary leaders, and supportive community that will help keep us on a path to success.

Farewell, JBER. You will have a special place in our hearts always.