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Acting SecAF visits Westover ARB

WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. (AFNS) -- "That's a lot of iron on the ramp," Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning said during his July 25 visit to Westover, seeing a row of 10 C-5s on the East Ramp.

During his three-hour visit, the acting secretary donned a hard hat and toured the nation's largest military aircraft, flew a C-5 simulator, and spoke to more than 450 people during an Airman's All Call.

At each stop on base, Fanning spoke with dozens of Airmen and civilians, gaining insight on how they support the airlift mission and listening to their concerns.

Fanning chose Westover ARB as one of two New England bases to visit and observe how furloughs and sequestration are affecting the Air Force, and to discuss current issues with the troops. The previous day he visited Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H.

Speaking on sequestration to wing members, he said his primary goal is to "make decisions now that provide some stability in the future." It costs two and a half to three times more to retrain a pilot whose currency has lapsed than it does to keep a pilot current, he added.

During the Airman's All Call, he answered pointed questions on furlough.

"We broke faith, in my view, with the people we furloughed," Fanning said. "And we are feeling the impact. I'm very committed to get us out of them because it's the worst way to manage a work force."

Fanning, a Dartmouth College graduate, was confirmed as the 24th Undersecretary of the Air Force in April. Two months later he became acting secretary after Michael B. Donley departed.

He oversees the Air Force's $110 billion annual budget.

Though a relative newcomer to the Air Force, he has served more than 20 years in national security at the Pentagon, Capitol Hill, the White House, and defense think-tanks. He also worked on the foreign and national assignment desks at CBS National News.
Prior to his confirmation, he served as Deputy Undersecretary of the Navy.

"He was surprisingly direct," observed Scott Daigneault, 439th Airlift Wing antiterrorism officer. "He gave us some honest background to the budget crunch."

He acknowledged that pay raises between the active duty and civilian forces aren't equal, but said it's not from lack of trying. The Air Force has requested a civilian pay raise every year, including this year.

Fanning also addressed sexual assault prevention: "It's clear from what I see that too many Airmen don't feel safe. This impacts our ability to take the mission forward." He said he and Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Spencer read every message posted on the Every Airman Counts blog, and he encouraged every Airman to participate.

He ended the All Call by saying, "Thank you for getting up every day and focusing on the mission."

At the end of his tour, as he stepped off a blue Air Force bus to fly to his next stop, Fanning watched a KC-10 climb into the air after doing a touch-and-go and exclaimed, "I love to see that."

(Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe contributed to this story)
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