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Home : News
NEWS | July 1, 2008

Alaska Air National Guard Holds Groundbreaking Ceremony

By Capt. Guy Hayes Alaska National Guard

Alaska Air National Guard 176th Wing breaks ground on Elmendorf for historic move

CAMP DENALI, Alaska - The Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Wing held a historic ground breaking ceremony today on Elmendorf Air Force Base signifying the move of Air National Guard assets from Kulis Air National Guard Base to Elmendorf by 2011.

"This is a great day in the history of Alaska," said Maj. Gen. Craig E. Campbell, adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard.

The move to Elmendorf is a Base Realignment and Closure success story which allows the 176th Air National Guard Wing to grow, remain a vital part of the Alaska National Guard and join forces with active duty and reserve Air Force components.

"Fifty years ago, Alaska became a state and today we see the total force we've been talking about," said Sen. Ted Stevens. "Congratulations to all of you for being a part of it."

In 2005, the Department of Defense recommended to close Kulis Air National Guard Base and relocate the 176th Wing and associated aircraft to Elmendorf Air Force Base. The move, which is estimated to save DoD about $146.7 million over the next 20 years, consolidates two installations, reduces infrastructure and retains the skilled, highly trained Alaska National Guard personnel.

The 176th Wing, which was established in 1952 as the 8144th Air Base Squadron, is one of the Air National Guard's largest, busiest and most complex wings.

Originally located in a small office above a bus depot in Anchorage, Airmen flew planes out of Elmendorf until 1955, when they moved to Kulis Air National Guard Base.

Today, with six distinct weapons systems and an end-strength of 1,500 members, the 176th is a combat ready force of highly trained Airmen.

In the last few years wing members have deployed to support U.S. interests in the Global War on Terrorism, joined humanitarian efforts in southwest Asia, Pakistan and Hurricane Katrina, helped secure our borders in support of Operation Jump Start and since 1994 its Recue Coordination Center is credited with saving more than 1,600 lives.

The 176th Wing will retain their search-and-rescue capabilities, enhance their tactical airlift capabilities by 50 percent and complement a new strategic airlift role to support America's global efforts.

"You are witnessing the birth of a new Alaska National Guard with a more relevant, more vibrant and more ready total force," Campbell said. "The only way we survive as a National Guard, active duty Air Force and Reserve in the future is as one team."