Elmendorf Airmen support PACAF operations

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Matthew Rosine
  • Air Force Print News
"Whoever holds Alaska will hold the world."
Speaking these words to Congress in 1935 during his final public appearance, Gen. Billy Mitchell understood the importance of airpower in Alaska. And today Airmen at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, are proving his words to be true. 

"We literally sit on top of the world," said Col. Scotty Lewis, 3rd Wing vice commander. 

"And, in a very short snippet, we can reach and touch 90 percent of the world's population from Elmendorf in about eight and a half hours, which puts us in a pretty valuable position." 

And, this position of value serves the Air Force's Pacific Air Forces, or PACAF. 

The wing's primary mission is to defend U.S. interests in the Pacific and around the world by providing worldwide air power projection. They also meet PACAF's theater staging and throughput requirements. 

"We have a very broad mission," said Chief Master Sgt. Joseph D. Oliveira, 3rd Wing maintenance group superintendent. "We do everything here." 

From C-130 Hercules airlift to their F-15E Strike Eagles and their E-3 airborne control capability, Chief Oliveira said Elmendorf's Airmen are ready to start and finish any mission. 

"We have myriad power that we can bring to the fight," he said. 

But Elmendorf brings more than battle-tested warfighting capabilities to PACAF. Airmen here also directly support peacetime and humanitarian missions such as the role they played during the tsunami relief effort. 

"As a military leader here, I feel great," Chief Oliveira said. "I am proud day after day. This is an awesome mission and an awesome place to be at." 

But, while Elmendorf Airmen may be succeeding with their daily missions today, they also are preparing to meet and defeat future challenges. 

"In short order we are going to bring about $5 billion of F-22 (Raptors), and about $2 billion in C-17(Globemaster IIIs) to Elmendorf Air Force Base, which again highlights how strategically important it is, not only to the Air Force but to the DOD," said Colonel Lewis.

"When you combine the breadth of mission here with the fact that we are, for all intensive purposes, a strategic launching pad for the Air Force in particular for PACAF, with the F-22 coming on board and also the C-17 -- our two most advanced weapons systems -- both coming to Elmendorf Air Force Base at the same time and we will be able to provide that capability to the PACAF commander and to PACOM," the colonel said.

The first C-17 is due to arrive on June 11 and the first F-22s are scheduled to arrive in August. 

The base also is transitioning to a true Total Force base. 

"Right now with the transition, obviously there is a lot going on," Chief Oliveira said. "We are going to have the (Air Force) Reserve working with us on the F-22. And, we are going to have the (Air National) Guard working with us on the C-17. So it is going to be a learning curve. But, we are going to succeed. We are going to do it well with our Total Force. They need us and we need them to accomplish the mission."

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