Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visits Fairbanks military installations on first trip to Alaska

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is joined by Col. David Berkland the Commander of the...
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is joined by Col. David Berkland the Commander of the 354th Fighter Wing at Eielson on one of Eielson F-35 fighter jets. Austin toured the base as well as other Interior military installations during his time in Fairbanks.(John Dougherty/KTVF)
Published: Jul. 25, 2021 at 4:17 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The U.S. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin was in Alaska on Saturday visiting Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base. He also flew over other military installations in the Interior as part of his tour. While at Eielson he gave a press conference.

“We are an Indo-Pacific nation and we are an arctic nation. Here in Alaska, those two critical regions intersect,” Austin said

He spoke about the importance Alaska plays in the US military’s goals and mission.

“It will certainly help us in our efforts to create capacity and capability that allows us to do what we set out to do in increasing the competitive edge with advisories like China and Russia.”

Joining Austin was Senator Dan Sullivan (R) from Alaska. Sullivan talked about the military importance of Alaska and why he wants to bring national leaders to the state.

“Getting them up here, it’s so important because here’s the magic of our great state, Alaska sells itself. I don’t have to say a word, I just bring them up here and the men and women in our military are so professional, they make such a great case and so does the community,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan also said he is hopeful for the continued build-up of the military in Alaska. He said over $1.6 billion has already been put into the military in the state in recent years and he expects that trend of investment to continue.

While at Eielson, Austin was shown the new F-35s as well as the F-16 Aggressors that help with the Red Flag Alaska training. Earlier in the day he viewed Alaska’s missile defense capabilities and arctic training areas.

“There’s a diverse set of options that we can deploy and I intend to keep them as lethal and as ready as we can,” Austin said.

Austin stopped in Alaska as part of a trip to the Indo-Pacific region. He travels to Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines next.

While in Fairbanks Austin also met with local leaders from Fairbanks to hear about how the military impacts the local community. Sullivan said that having a community that supports the military is important and he thinks the meeting Austin had was productive.

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