He’s in charge of more than 10,000 lives and 80,000 acres. Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) Cmdr. Col. George Dietrich, the so-called “Mayor of JBER,” has been on the job for three months. He says a challenging first month, which included Arctic Thunder and a base-wide readiness inspection, made him more comfortable in the role.

“Month one was pretty much a fire hose,” said Dietrich. “Because it was such a steep learning curve right off the bat, I feel like I’ve had an opportunity to kind of, get up to speed a little bit faster than I normally would have.”

Dietrich says he’s been impressed by how well the Army and Air Force work together at JBER, but challenges always arise when you start talking money.

“The real challenge is finding the most innovative ways to stretch those dollars and get as much as we can out of the resources we have,” he said.

Another challenge facing the base: the uncertain future of the 4/25 Airborne Brigade Combat Team, which faced cuts as the Army downsizes.

“I learned quite a few years ago, I finally gave up on trying to predict the future when it comes to manning and money,” said Dietrich. “Even if there are some changes, I think end up, final force structure, things will probably look similar to the same. That’s my optimistic opinion.”

The colonel says his main job is to serve the thousands of soldiers and airmen under his command.

“There’s a lot of people on this installation that have very important missions when it comes to defending this nation and my primary job is just making sure that they’ve got what they need so they can accomplish that mission,” he said.

Dietrich only has two years as JBER commander and while it’s going fast, he says he’ll do his best to make a difference every day.

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