In just two weeks, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson will have a new commander. Col. Brian Bruckbauer’s two-year post is coming to an end. He called Alaska a “dream assignment” and said leaving will be bittersweet for him and his family.

As the so-called “Mayor of JBER”, Bruckbauer said when he first arrived in Alaska, handling the size of the base was a big challenge – learning all the people and organizations and how best to support them.

“There’s only a finite amount of time, a finite amount of money and everybody has things that are important to them,” Bruckbauer said.

Another challenge is keeping up with what’s happening on base. Bruckbauer said at times, he was putting in 12- to 18-hour days, seven days a week.

“It takes a lot of work, day in and day out, but it’s well worth the effort,” he said.

The potential cuts to the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division also brought stress to the job. It’s an issue the next commander will have to tackle in the future.

Bruckbauer feels one of his big accomplishments was improving communication on all levels, from leadership to social media.

“We’ve seen the fruits of that because people seem happier, there’s less rumors,” Bruckbauer said. “People are plugged in a lot more and understand what’s going on.”

Other successes the colonel is proud of include increased community partnership, improved disaster readiness and better morale and welfare programs. But Bruckbauer said the people doing good work all around the base are what have made this assignment meaningful.

“Just to see the performance, the ingenuity and the can-do attitude of all the people here on JBER will definitely be something I’ll remember forever and miss,” he said.

Bruckbauer is moving to New York City, where he will be a fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations. Bruckbauer will give command of JBER over to Col. George Dietrich on July 11. Dietrich comes to Alaska from Travis Air Force Base in California where he was the commander of the 60th Mission Support Group.

KTVA 11’s Bonney Bowman can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

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