Inside the Gates: JBER named top US Air Force installation worldwide

The Department of Defense announced Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson the winner of the 2020 Commander in Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence
Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 4:16 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - 2019 was a busy year for Alaska’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The military installation offered a helping hand on the base and surrounding communities with earthquake recovery. JBER stood ready and deployed when called upon to help during one of the worst wildfire seasons in recent memory. There was a Department of Defense-wide housing health and safety review, the hosting of large scale events like Northern Edge ’19, Pacific Air Forces' largest Arctic security exercise while still maintaining normal daily operations and training.

“We quickly realized that early on that when you look at JBER, it’s a base that they’re never going to break regardless of what is happening in the world,” former 673rd & JBER Commander Col. Patricia Csànk said. “There’s always going to be a mission there and more than just being a power projection platform, that base is a weapon system.”

Under Csànk’s leadership, JBER was nominated early this year as a finalist for the 2020 Commander in Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence. Csànk has since been promoted to work at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. as deputy director of logistics. Joint Base San Antonio also was a finalist and both installations received $750,000 in funds to help improve the quality of life on the base.

“When we found out we were going to be a finalist, we thought we had a pretty good shot at it, we started sending out polls for what our community wanted,” 673rd Air Base Wing Command Chief CMSgt. Lee Mills said. “That’s the focus of the funds we get is community improvements and enhancements.”

One of the top requests was a dog park and JBER quickly went to work over the summer on the project. Water bottle stations for the barracks and dorms were installed along with more blackout curtains. This fall, JBER will work on renovations to the Arctic Oasis, Buckner Ice Rink, Elmendorf gym repairs and many other upgrades across the base.

In September during a virtual ceremony, JBER was named the top U.S. Air Force installation worldwide out of a total of 183. One installation from each of the services and the Defense Logistics Agency is selected each year for this highly competitive presidential award. Former President Ronald Reagan started the annual award in 1985 to recognize innovation and superior operation of military installations.

“We fight from the base here at JBER and mission readiness is our priority and we need to be ready at a moments notice because even in the short two months that I’ve been here I’ve seen where we’ve been called upon to be ready in less than 24 hours,” JBER and 673rd ABW Commander Col. Kirsten Aguilar said. “I’m incredibly honored to represent this team. We are incredibly grateful for this recognition and the quality of life enhancements that we are able to make here at JBER to support our families.”

Along with the victory, JBER receives an additional $500,000 to help with quality of life enhancements, bringing the total to $1.25 million. JBER also will receive a Commander in Chief’s Award trophy and flag to display on the base and a letter from the President of the United States.

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