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Brig. Gen. JD Harris, Commander 56th Fighter Wing

Brig. Gen. JD Harris, Commander 56th Fighter Wing

At Luke Air Force Base, we’re proud to be part of the community in the West Valley. We recognize that the support of surrounding communities is vital to our success as we carry out our mission of training the world’s greatest F-16 pilots and maintainers.

We’ve had an outstanding year at Luke. This year, we graduated 372 pilots, 529 crew chiefs, and 68 intelligence specialists. We deployed 484 Airmen in support of U.S. operations overseas, while continuing to accomplish the mission at home.

We also earned a rating of “Excellent” on the Unit Compliance Inspection conducted by Air Education and Training Command. This is a major inspection conducted every two years which assesses our compliance with regulations. The results validated what I have seen over the past 14 months as the wing commander here and are a testament to the professionalism of our men and women at Luke.

As we carry out our mission, we strive to be good neighbors in the West Valley. Last year alone, Luke Airmen volunteered more than 100,000 hours in the local community.

We conducted dozens of flyovers in support of community events and had the privilege of our Airmen speaking to thousands of people at school and civic functions in the region.

We also make every effort to be good stewards of the environment and our resources.

Work continues on a 15 megawatt solar array, located on 106 acres of undeveloped land in the southwest corner of the base. When completed, the array is expected to provide up to 50 percent of the base’s normal electrical needs. According to EPA estimates, this will avoid 19,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. There is no out-of-pocket expense to the Air Force for construction of the actual array, and long-term electricity cost savings over the next 20 years are expected to exceed $15 million.

Also on the environmental front, the Maricopa County Air Quality Department has renewed a Title V air permit for Luke, reestablishing the framework for the base’s continued compliance with federal and local air regulations. We’re committed to doing our part to protect the environment, and we value the guidance of the county in that regard.

The Navy Operational Support Center, previously located in Phoenix, is relocating to Luke as well. The new 32,055 square foot building has its own 67 kilowatt solar array for providing renewable energy and is an exemplary model of sustainability. The building is on track to receive certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

By being located within the perimeter of Luke, the NOSC benefits from the base’s secured perimeter and abundance of parking, while redeveloping an older section of the base.

Once again, I am extremely grateful for the support of communities around the base. I think I speak for all the men and women at Luke when I say we’re honored to have the opportunity to live and work here. I’d like to wish all our neighbors in the West Valley happy holidays and a safe and prosperous New Year! It is good to be back home in the West Valley.

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