PACAF command team visits JBER, ‘“Front Lines’” of Indo-Pacific theater

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Patrick Sullivan
  • JBER Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Gen. Ken Wilsbach, Pacific Air Forces commander, and Chief Master Sgt. David Wolfe, PACAF command chief, and their spouses visited the installation Jan. 4-6, 2023.

The command team holds a combined 22 years of experience in Alaska, spending 12 assignments in the state between them. This makes the team incredibly familiar with the strategic importance of JBER and Alaska as a whole.

“[Our bases] in Alaska are in one of the most strategically important locations in the whole world,” said Wolfe. “Any of our forces can be anywhere within the Northern Hemisphere in about eight hours. That gives us a capability that you cannot replicate anywhere else. You can’t underestimate the strategic value of Alaska.”

“We’re on the front lines, especially if you start thinking about Russia, North Korea, and China,” Wilsbach added. “What we do here is critical to our national security.”

Wilsbach and Wolfe met with various units throughout their visit, witnessing the capabilities Airmen employ to thrive in an arctic environment.

The 673d Logistics Readiness Group highlighted their snow equipment maintenance facility and the innovation they employ to keep gear operational.

The leadership team also traveled to Camp Mad Bull, where the 673d Medical Group showed the advancements made in their Below Zero Medicine program, a specialized cold-weather first aid and casualty prevention program created to support operations in an arctic environment.

“It is clear that the focus on arctic readiness is really there,” spoke Wolfe on what they saw at the units they toured. "That … over the last couple of years has really become a game-changing focus for commanders [and] across our Alaska.

The 3rd Wing leadership had the opportunity to discuss modernization of the F-22 Raptor along with how the Wing supports and trains agile combat employment.

"With the advent of our adversaries being able to shut down airfields, what we've learned is that if you disperse and operate from multiple airfields you create a targeting problem for the adversary," said Wilsbach. "In order to disperse but continue to apply air power we have to have the skillset to be able to do agile combat employment."

Wilsbach continued, "It's important in Alaska because the forces that are [here] are going to be used in a high-end fight, especially in the Indo-Pacific theater; and we are going to need them to be able to do ACE. One of the most important things every Airman can think about is being a multi-capable Airman—being an Airman who can do more than one thing—because we won't have the luxury of having specialists in every location we deploy to."

The team also acknowledged the challenges that come with serving in Alaska and recognized the strength and resilience of members here.

“I want to thank all of the Airmen and their families for serving in Alaska,” said Wilsbach. “We know there’s challenges. Some of them we can and have fixed. I encourage everyone to continue to let us know what these challenges are because we care.”

Wilsbach and Wolfe’s spouses accompanied them on this trip to JBER. During the week, they met with various agencies supporting families on the installation such as the Fisher House, resiliency teams, and the JBER key spouses.