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SECAF addresses Air Force Association conference

by Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

9/25/2007 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- "The Air Force Association is the preeminent wingman and our strongest supporter," Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne told the audience during the opening day of the Air Force Association's Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition event Sept. 24.

Secretary Wynne directly addressed several issues facing today's Airmen and focused on the air, space and cyberspace domains.

Air dominance matters, he said. The Air Force has been at war for 17 years and it hasn't been easy or without its cost. If not the cost it takes on Airmen and their families, then the toll comes in wear and tear on the Air Force's aging fleet, he said.

"I think Americans have gotten so accustomed to the Air Force dominating the skies that they sometime forgot why it matters," Secretary Wynne said. "The last time an American service member has had to worry about being attacked from an enemy aircraft was in April 1953."

If the nation and its allies are going to continue to enjoy that luxury in the future, then the investment needs to be made today by modernizing and recapitalizing the Air Force inventory, he said.

In addition to stressing the importance of air dominance, the secretary addressed the Air Force's warfighting domains of space and cyberspace.

"Today our space assets provide us with unprecedented intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and allow us to network with our forces across the globe," Secretary Wynne said. "The control of space has become essential to the way we fight."

That control, however, is not guaranteed. Secretary Wynne cited a recent test by the Chinese government that successfully shot down one of their own weather satellites.

"If they can shoot down one of theirs, they might be able to shoot down one of ours," he said. "If we wish to maintain that advantage, we need to take action to protect the ultimate high ground."

Even more than space, the new American way of war is dependent on cyberspace as virtually all ISR and communications flow through computers. And in a broader sense, the entire nation has become dependent on cyberspace, from personnel systems to finance to utilities, Secretary Wynne said.

Because of this and the need to protect these systems, Air Force Cyber Command Provisional has been created, a new major command that calls Barksdale Air Force Base, La., home.

Air Force leaders are focused on providing warfighters with the tools and training they need, the secretary said. And to fund these necessary programs, Officials have introduced several initiatives to streamline the service, such as Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, as well as force shaping reductions to the overall number of Airmen in overmanned career fields.

Also, because fuel is such a large part of the budget, Air Force officials have begun tests to fly aircraft on cleaner synthetic fuels, as well as powering some bases with renewable energy sources.

Secretary Wynne assured the crowd that the Air Force is dedicated to its mission to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace.

"Thanks to our Airmen and organizations like the Air Force Association, we are doing our mission well," he said. "Over the years, AFA has proven its worth to the Air Force. You are our foundation and the face we show to the nation. Thank you for telling our story and supporting your Air Force."

Secretary Wynne also expressed words of thanks and encouragement for the AFA conference attendees, including military members and civic leaders.

"Your men and women in blue are doing fantastic things," he said. "This year, as the Air Force celebrated its 60th Anniversary, we had a chance to look back and across and reflect on where we've been and to plan our flight plan for the future."

In addition to American service members, more than 80 air force chiefs from around the globe also attended the conference and exposition.

"You represent the coalition of allied and friendly nations ... and it's reflected by your attendance here," the secretary said.

The conference includes several professional development forums and discussions surrounding the Air Force's top three priorities: fighting and winning the war on terrorism, developing and caring for Airmen, and recapitalizing and modernizing the aging fleet and equipment.

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