Recently, there has been a great deal of commentary in area newspapers, on radio air waves, and on various Web sites regarding the military’s proposed changes to the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC). This commentary is critical to the Environmental Impact Statement and is an integral and important part of deciding if the proposed changes to JPARC are reasonable. As neighbors and fellow state residents, your Alaska military members are committed to trying to find a way to improve military training to keep up with current technology and lessons from combat with the least possible impact on Alaska’s public lands, wildlife, recreational opportunities, and expressed concerns of its citizens.
To clarify some important points, the proposed enhancements are designed to modernize and improve Alaska’s land, sea and air training spaces. If the JPARC enhancements take place, the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard will be able to practice the way we jointly fight together, ultimately contributing to saving lives during real-world conflicts like the War on Terrorism. Alaska will be unique in the United States for offering state-of-the-art joint training space large enough to replicate realistic large-scale engagements and leverage the fifth generation capabilities of all of our Services.
Many people have expressed concerns the proposed changes would encroach on recreational opportunities, like hunting, fishing, flying, and boating. Although most of the proposed enhancements to JPARC involve operational designation of airspace on certain days of the year and not the underlying land, this is a valid concern and I invite individuals to inform themselves and submit comments, either at the scoping meetings or on our web site: http://www.jparceis.com. All comments will be taken seriously as part of our research into the impact of the proposed changes. No decisions will be made until the scoping process is complete, including a period of public hearings after the Environmental Impact Statement is produced.
Lastly and most importantly, I would like you to know how much pride we have being able to serve in the great state of Alaska. The unparalleled support of the community is what helps make this a truly unique and positive experience for our uniformed service members. We honor and appreciate this support and you have our promise that we will do everything we can to maintain it.
Dana T. Atkins
Lieutenant General, USAF