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SecAF addresses Airmen at Yokota, discusses future challenges

by Airman 1st Class Desiree Economides
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

4/26/2012 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley addressed more than 300 Airmen April 24 during an all call at the Taiyo Community Center here.

Donley thanked the Airmen for their work during Operation Tomodachi and also discussed the future of the Air Force in the Pacific region during the call.

"All of your actions collectively had a strategic effect, a positive effect, on our relations with our long-standing allies," he said. "So I'd like to thank you on behalf of the Air Force, the Department of Defense and the American people for representing us so very well during that crisis."

In terms of the future of the Air Force in the Pacific, Donley noted the Department of Defense's new strategic guidance and how it refocuses U.S. attention on the Pacific region.

"We have had a long-standing presence in the Asia-Pacific region," said Donley. "Our bases in Alaska, Hawaii and Guam, as well as our forward presence here in Japan and in the Republic of Korea, are critical to protecting our U.S. territories and interests and promoting stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Maintaining these close relationships with traditional allies and seeking to build stronger ties with emerging allies also are vital goals," he said. "Consistent with this guidance, we will sustain our Air Force commitments here in the Pacific and will continue to support our joint teammates and partners in the region as we always have."

The secretary went on to discuss information on upcoming budget cuts and the future of the Air Force.

Finding the proper balance between force structure, readiness and modernization has been the Air Force's guiding principal, said Donley.

"We've determined the Air Force's best course of action is to trade size for quality," he added. "We're going to get a little smaller, but we are going to protect a high-quality and ready force, a force that will continue to modernize and grow more capable in the years ahead."

Also while at Yokota, the secretary toured various facilities throughout the 374th Airlift Wing, 5th Air Force, U.S. Forces, Japan and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force Air Defense Command Headquarters.

Donley is scheduled to visit several installations throughout the western Pacific region during his trip.

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