President Donald Trump speaks to service members at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska., during a refueling stop as he returns from Hanoi. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks to service members at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska., during a refueling stop as he returns from Hanoi. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump makes stop, speech at Alaska military base

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON — President Donald Trump showered praised on troops and touted the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling when Air Force One made a refueling stop Thursday in Alaska as the president returned from Asia.

Trump was traveling back to Washington after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed in Vietnam.

He didn’t discuss those talks during a 20-minute address.

Standing in front of an F-22 Raptor fighter jet at an Anchorage base, Trump thanked all those serving in the military in Alaska, “our country’s last frontier as America’s first line of defense.”

He noted that since World War II, Alaska-based forces have served as the top cover for North America.

“You are a powerful warning to the world to never strike American soil,” Trump said. “You are a warning that everybody knows about and nobody wants to play with.”

Trump also noted that the Anchorage base will receive the first of 54 new F-35 stealth fighter jets that will be “arriving here very soon.” He also said 20 more ground based interceptors will be installed at Fort Greeley, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Fairbanks, to strengthen the nation’s missile defense system.

Trump said he’s always had a special place in his heart for Alaska, which likely stems from a grandfather who ventured north to look for gold.

The president said his grandfather didn’t find gold but opened hotels for others who also traveled north to seek their fortunes.

Trump touted legislation to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration, an effort finalized after decades of fierce disputes between Republicans and Democrats.

The Trump administration and congressional Republicans said the drilling plan would help pay for tax cuts approved by Congress and signed by Trump in December 2017.

GOP lawmakers project at least $1 billion in revenue from drilling leases over 10 years. But environmental groups and other critics call those projections wildly optimistic, saying low global oil prices and high exploration costs are likely to limit drilling revenue.

Protests have marked recent public hearings on the plan in Fairbanks and Anchorage.

The administration plan calls for at least two major lease sales, each on a minimum of 625 square miles (1,619 square kilometers) in the refuge’s coastal plain. Surface development would be limited to 3 square miles (8 square kilometers).

Trump praised Alaska’s new governor, Republican Mike Dunleavy, who flew in for the ceremony at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. “He said, ‘We really appreciate you got that done,’” Trump said of the conversation he had with Dunleavy about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“He’s not only one of the best governors in the United States, he’s definitely the largest,” Trump said of Dunleavy, who stands 6 feet, 7 inches tall.

Trump told Dunleavy he could call him any time he has a problem, “and we’ll take care of it for Alaska.”

The president endorsed Dunleavy in last year’s election, in which Dunleavy defeated former Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich after independent Gov. Bill Walker dropped out of the race just weeks before Election Day.


This is an Associated Press report.


President Donald Trump speaks to service members at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska., during a refueling stop as he returns from Hanoi. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks to service members at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska., during a refueling stop as he returns from Hanoi. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks to service members at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska., during a refueling stop as he returns from Hanoi. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks to service members at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska., during a refueling stop as he returns from Hanoi. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump arrives at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska., during a refueling stop as he returns from Hanoi. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump arrives at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska., during a refueling stop as he returns from Hanoi. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

More in News

In this July 13, 2007, file photo, workers with the Pebble Mine project test drill in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, near the village of Iliamma. (AP Photo / Al Grillo)
Pebble developer files appeal with Army Corps

The Army Corps of Engineers rejected Pebble Limited Partnership’s application in November.

This August 2019 photos shows a redline at Treadwell Arena designed by Tsimshian artist Abel Ryan. The arena is adding new weekly events to its schedule, City and Borough of Juneau announced. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Treadwell Arena adds new weekly events

Hockey and open skate are on the schedule.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Friday, Jan. 22

The most recent state and local numbers.

A Coast Guard Station Juneau 45-foot Response Boat-Medium patrols Auke Bay during an exercise in 2018. A response boat similar to the one in the photo was struck by a laser near Ketchikan on Saturday, Jan. 17, prompting an investigation into the crime. (Lt. Brian Dykens / U.S. Coast Guard)
Coast Guard wants information after laser pointed at boat

“Laser strikes jeopardize the safety of our boat crews…”

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Thursday, Jan. 21

The most recent state and local numbers.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy addresses the public during a virtual town hall on Sept. 15, 2020 in Alaska. ( Courtesy Photo / Austin McDaniel, Office of the Governor)
Dunleavy pitches dividend change amid legislative splits

No clear direction has emerged from lawmakers.

Joar Leifseth Ulsom, right, wearing a bib with ExxonMobil lettering on it, congratulates Peter Kaiser on his win in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Nome, Alaska. The world’s most famous sled dog race has lost another major sponsor as the Iditarod prepares for a scaled-back version of this year’s race because of the pandemic, officials said Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. ExxonMobil confirmed to The Associated Press that the oil giant will drop its sponsorship of the race. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)
ExxonMobil becomes latest sponsor to sever Iditarod ties

The world’s most famous sled dog race has lost another major sponsor.

Has it always been a police car? (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Friday, Jan. 22, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read