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Secretary visits Southwest Asia, outlines Air Force priorities

by Senior Airman Spencer Gallien
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

2/4/2010 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- The secretary of the Air Force visited servicemembers here Jan. 29 as he toured military installations throughout Southwest Asia.

Secretary Michael Donley met with members of the Combined Air and Space Operations Center and attended multiple briefings, including mission and warfighter briefings. He also spoke to various servicemembers throughout the wing during an Airmen's Call highlighting future Air Force priorities.

"When asked, 'what is the best part of your job as the Secretary of the Air Force?' the answer is real quick for me," Secretary Donley said. "The best part of the job is getting out of Washington D.C and meeting you, the men and women that are making this work for our Air Force, getting the job done 24/7, 365."

As Secretary Donley moves into his second year as SecAF, he stressed the importance of balancing current operations with building for the future.

"We need to focus on moving forward for the future, while maintaining current operations," he said. "Of course we have to focus on new investments, and in that realm, the tanker remains our number-one priority, we hope to have a contract by the end of this year on a new KC-X."

He also addressed the high operations tempo and exemplary job the men and women of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing and the rest of the team have been doing.

"You have bragging rights here as one of the largest and most diverse wings in the United States Air Force," Secretary Donley said. "The 379th (AEW) Grand Slam, and the rest of the team here, is very representative of our Air Force across the board.

"This base is a hub of coalition and joint operations," he added. "With more than 1,500 missions a month and 90 aircraft at the base at any given time, I'm very proud of what you're doing here, you make operations a success."

During the Airmen's Call, Lt. Col. Larry Germann, from Air Forces Central A3, asked about past force structuring initiatives and what the future may hold. The Air Force is currently addressing a number of manning challenges, the secretary said.

"We currently sit at about 332,000 Airmen serving in the Air Force," he explained. "We're looking at beefing up manning in the maintenance, cyber, nuclear, unmanned-aerial vehicles and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance career fields."

Secretary Donley also spoke with servicemembers about the Year of the Air Force family.

"I'm making sure you have the support from us, your families and your bases so when you deploy, you can get the work done ," he said. "We want you to know that your families and the bases you left behind are supporting you as an Air Force community and that they also have the support they need to support you."

As he prepared to wrap up the Airmen's Call, the secretary left servicemembers with words of appreciation.

"I just want to thank all of you for this opportunity to visit," he said. "It's been an honor to see the great work you all do in Southwest Asia and for the Air Force."



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