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673d Air Base Wing now official
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, commander Alaskan Command, and Col. Robert D. Evans, commander 673d Air Base Wing, pay respect to the colors along with members of the 673d ABW during the unit's activation ceremony July 30. The 673d ABW is the supporting unit for Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, which is comprised of more than 6,000 military, civilian and contractor members from both Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson Army Garrison near Anchorage, Alaska. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Jeremiah Erickson)
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Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, 673d Air Base Wing unfurls flag

Posted 8/6/2010   Updated 8/6/2010 Email story   Print story


by Luke Waack

8/6/2010 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Air Force Col. Robert D. Evans officially assumed command of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's 673d Air Base Wing at Hangar 5, July 30.

The 673d ABW combines part of the Elmendorf Air Force Base's 3rd Wing with the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Richardson to take over installation management functions of the merged joint installation; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

The JBER merger is a result of the 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission and creates a single installation as the military strives to become more efficient.

Elmendorf and Fort Richardson are among 26 other installations across the country being combined into 12 joint bases. The Air Force was selected as the lead agency for Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, Alaskan Command commander, addressed the audience of hundreds of JBER community members and spoke of the process leading up to the official stand up of the joint base.

General Atkins recognized the "Enterprise Team" which spearheaded the transformation.

"That Enterprise Team, somewhere around the fall of 2008, started a full-court press to bring joint-basing to reality, and over the course of about the next 18 months, they set out a strategic road map to get us to the day that we are here," General Atkins said.

"And in that strategic road map, there were more than 2,800 milestones - things that we had to do collectively, both the Air Force and the Army - to pull this off the way this should be done," the general said.

The team ensured the success of the merger, General Atkins said.

"We have blended what we think are the best of Air Force programs, the best of Army programs to build the best of breed here at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson," he said.

General Atkins unfurled the JBER flag with Colonel Evans as Chief Master Sgt. Kuehnl held the guidon. Army Col. Timothy R. Prior, JBER/673d ABW vice-commander was the commander of troops.

After officially assuming command, Colonel Evans spoke to the crowd about the future of the joint base.

"The approach we've taken here is one of true integration; we don't have an Army garrison by itself and an Air Force mission support of installation support function by itself," Colonel Evans said.

"It only comes together under the command of a single officer; our entire organization is joint," the colonel continued.

The value of joint-basing is about more than efficiency, Colonel Evans said.
"Because I believe the true value in joint-basing is far beyond any efficiencies we will gain, any cost savings we will realize," he said.

"The true value of joint-basing is in combat war fighting, it's in joint war fighting, he continued. " And when I say joint war fighting I'm not just talking about at the tip of the spear, I'm talking about the significant contributions our communities and our families make to our Soldiers and our Airmen that enable them to be at the tip of the spear.

"Because we are JBER, because we will combine in a joint base - I think the premiere joint base in the Department of Defense - we will better be able to do that and the effectiveness we will gain will be profound," the colonel said.

Colonel Evans related his first bear sighting on base to the crowd.

"As I drove to my headquarters, the new 673d Air Base Wing headquarters just across from the Alaska Command headquarters, a black bear was walking across the path," he said.

The colonel also gave a prediction of the joint base's future.

"I know what it means when the groundhog sees his shadow; I know what it means when a black cat crosses your path," he said. "I don't know what it means when a black bear crosses across the entrance to our headquarters of JBER on the morning of this activation ceremony, but I'm going with this; it's going to be good."

In December 2009, the Department of the Air Force approved the organizational structure for the new Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson host unit; the 673d Air Base Wing.

The implementation transition to JBER officially began Jan. 31. The bases will be fully united by October.

Since the implementation in January more and more installation functions from the both Elmendorf's 3rd Wing and Fort Richardson's garrison have merged. The wing and garrison safety offices have merged, as have the public affairs offices, the chaplains' offices. The fire departments merged several years ago.

"This union formalizes an already close working relationship the Air Force and Army have shared for years; working closely together under Alaskan Command," Colonel Prior said.
The 673d ABW consists of four groups; a medical group, logistics readiness group, civil engineering group and a mission support group and 16 wing staff agencies supporting the base's legal, financial, public affairs and many other services.

These groups will provide service to the entire joint base.

The 673d Medical Group will provide medical services to the community just as the 3rd Medical Group has for many years.

The entire medical team will migrate into the 673d.

The 673d Logistics Readiness Group will provide both the base supply and deployment support services. The missions of the Army's Directorate of Logistics and the 3rd Logistics Readiness Squadron will be embodied in this group.

The 3rd Civil Engineering Squadron and Directorate of Public Works come together to provide support to the joint facility as the 673d Civil Engineering Group.

Finally, there will be the 673d Mission Support Group which houses the Contracting, Communications, Security Forces and Force Support Squadrons.

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