Gen. Ralston & Lt. Gen. Handy on “Military in Alaska: Strategic Importance Then and Now”

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Date(s) - Friday, November 21, 2014
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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**Part of the Anchorage’s Place in the World: Celebrating the Past 100 Years and Looking Toward the Future Series**


General Joseph Ralston Bio:
Joseph RalstonIn 2003, General Ralston completed a distinguished 37-year Air Force career as Commander, U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, NATO. As NATO commander, General Ralston contributed to preserving the peace, security and territorial integrity of the NATO member nations while commanding approximately 65,000 troops from 39 NATO and other nations participating in ongoing operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. He also led the efforts to integrate the three nations that were admitted to NATO in 1999 and oversaw the process to invite seven nations to join NATO in 2002.

As Commander of the U.S. European Command from (2000-2003), General Ralston was the senior U.S. military officer and commander of all US forces in an area of responsibility that covers more than 21 million square miles and includes 93 nations. This territory extends from the North Cape of Norway, through the waters of the Baltic and Mediterranean seas, most of Europe, parts of the Middle East, to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. In this command, he faced and met many challenges. He deepened the command’s role in Central Asia and the Caucasus through humanitarian missions and through military training assistance for Operation Enduring Freedom. He led the command in daily missions in the war against terrorism, from the streets of Bosnia to the waters of the Mediterranean. And he oversaw air operations in the no-fly zone over Northern Iraq.

Previously, General Ralston served as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1996-2000), the nation’s second highest-ranking military officer. In that role, General Ralston chaired the powerful Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC), which validated the requirements for nearly every program of the Department of Defense. His previous assignment was commander of the U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. He has also commanded the Alaskan Command and the Alaskan NORAD Region. He has served as Deputy Chief of Staff of the Air Force for Plans and Operations, as Director of Tactical Programs in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, and as Director of Air Force Operational Requirements.

A native of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, General Ralston entered the Air Force in 1965 through the ROTC program upon graduation from Miami University in Ohio. His stellar career included commands at squadron, wing, numbered air force and major command levels as well as a variety of staff and management assignments. He is a command pilot with more than 2,500 flying hours, including 147 combat missions over Laos and North Vietnam. General Ralston is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Lockheed Martin, The Timken Company, and URS Corporation. In September 2006, President Bush appointed him as the Special Envoy for Countering the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), a terrorist organization designated by the United States, Turkey and the European Union.


Lt. General Russell Handy Bio:
Russell HandyLt. Gen. Russell J. Handy is Commander, Alaskan Command, U.S. Pacific Command; Commander, Joint Task Force Alaska, U.S. Northern Command; Commander, Eleventh Air Force, Pacific Air Forces; and Commander, Alaskan Region, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. General Handy is the senior military officer in Alaska, responsible for the integration of all military activities in the Alaskan joint operations area, synchronizing the activities of more than 21,000 active-duty, Guard and Reserve members from all services. He is also responsible for the planning and execution of all Homeland Defense operations within the theater, including security and civil support actions. General Handy also commands Eleventh Air Force, overseeing the training and readiness of five wings and Air Force installations located in Alaska, Hawaii, and Guam. As Commander of the Alaskan Region of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, General Handy directs operations to ensure effective surveillance, monitoring and defense of the region’s airspace.

General Handy was commissioned in 1983 through Officer Training School after graduating from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He has held a variety of flying, staff and command assignments, including command of the 58th Fighter Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; 3rd Operations Group, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin AFB; 57th Wing, Nellis AFB, Nev; 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Iraq and Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica. The general is a graduate of, and has been an instructor at, the USAF Fighter Weapons School at Nellis AFB. He has also served at North American Aerospace Defense Command as Chief, Headquarters NORAD Advanced Programs, Peterson AFB, Colo., and as Director of Operations, Plans, Requirements and Programs and Chief of Staff, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

General Handy is a command pilot with more than 3,600 flight hours, primarily in the F-15 and F-22A. He has participated in numerous combat operations and deployments, including Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Desert Fox, Southern Watch, Noble Eagle, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.


This program is supported in part by a grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Rasmuson Foundation, and the Anchorage Centennial Celebration. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the Forum.


This program is presented in partnership with:
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