By Staff Sgt. Curt Beach
673d Air Base Wing Public Affairs
The Department of Defense has announced Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson as a winner of the 2020 Commander in Chief's Annual Award for Installation Excellence.
The Commander in Chief's Annual Award for Installation Excellence recognizes the outstanding and innovative efforts of the people who operate and maintain U.S. military installations. One installation from each of the services and the Defense Logistics Agency is selected each year for this highly competitive presidential award for exemplary support of Department of Defense missions.
Former President Ronald Reagan instituted the CINC IEA in 1985. The presidential award recognizes innovation and superior operation of military installations that have best used their resources to support the mission.
“What an honor it is to join the ranks of such a dynamic joint team that has demonstrated a passion for excellence and tenacity for thriving in the Arctic,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Kirsten Aguilar, who recently took command of JBER and the 673d Air Base Wing, succeeding U.S. Air Force Col. Patricia Csànk. “I’m eager to fuel the continued successes of JBER and propel our team to new heights as we, together, defend the homeland and our trusted allies as the keystone weapon system of the Pacific.”
In early 2020, JBER was nominated as a finalist following a successful year of executing agile combat support and homeland defense missions around the globe while taking on several large-scale events, from natural disasters to Northern Edge ‘19, Pacific Air Forces’ largest Arctic security exercise.
“Team JBER had a phenomenally successful year. I am proud of the work our joint force team, families, and community partners accomplished together,” said Csànk, who relinquished command of JBER and the 673d ABW in July. “We tackled recovery from a 7.1 earthquake; a DoD-wide housing health and safety review; the worst Alaska wildfire season in recent memory; a global pandemic…and we still brought mission to bear as a family and community. We will invest the award money to improve our community and quality of life. Every JBER unit and partner owns this recognition. Team JBER has much to be proud of!”
JBER and Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, competed as the finalists for the winning spot out of the 183 United States Air Force installations worldwide.
Installations compete on how well they achieve departmental objectives in several areas of installation management, including mission support, energy conservation, quality of life and unit morale, environmental stewardship, real property management, safety, health and security, communications, and public relations.
Excellent installations enable better mission performance and enhance the working and living conditions for military men and women, DOD civilians and their families. Each of the winning installations succeeded at being the best in achieving excellence in performing installation management within their military service and DLA.
Team JBER service members led the way with innovative programs and partnerships to include experiments in cyber defense, the Air Force’s first Tactical Combat Casualty Care training program, and research and development of a cutting-edge logistics app for deployment processing. Further, they developed wildland firefighting partnerships, were an Air Force Hennessy Award finalist food services program, and were an Air Force Spark Tank finalist for an aircraft de-fueling hose. Through creative approaches, JBER saved taxpayers more than $5,088,000 this past year alone.
“JBER’s Arctic Warriors drove innovation through strategic thinking, creativity, and strong partnerships across the installation and the local community,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Thomas Cook, who served as 673d Comptroller Squadron commander during the qualifying year for the award. “Our strength is in our diversity and inclusivity. It’s about looking at challenges through a different lens and then giving them the time, space, and resources to make it happen. When these diverse groups come together in JBER’s Innovation Lab, they create new communities of innovators that are able solve those challenges.”
The JBER Community voted to use the award money on childcare at Buckner Physical Fitness Center; the Arctic Oasis Community Center renovation; enhanced recreational areas; water bottle stations for dorms and barracks; Hangar 5 Field House improvements; blackout curtains for the barracks; Nursing Pods around the installation; and dog parks. These projects will begin this summer.
Other installation funded projects planned for the fall include repairs to the Buckner Physical Fitness Center ice rink repair; repair for the Elmendorf fitness center; air conditioning for the Child Development Centers; repairs for the D Street Car Wash; and award for the repair of the Talkeetna Movie Theater.
Each military service’s winning installation will also receive a commemorative Commander in Chief's Award trophy and flag, and a congratulatory letter from the President of the United States.