Acting Under Secretary of the Air Force visits Alaska
Lt. Col. David Piffarerio, 302nd Fighter Squadron commander, shows Acting Under Secretary of the Air Force Dr. Jamie Morin the inside of an F-22 Raptor cockpit during a tour of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, on Nov. 13, 2012. Morin visited the base to thank Elmendorf Airmen for their service and address challenges ahead for the Air Force (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Omari Bernard)
by Airman 1st Class Omari Bernard
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs
11/16/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (AFNS) -- Acting Under Secretary of the Air Force Dr. Jamie Morin visited with Airmen from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Nov. 13 during his first trip to the region.
"It's great to be here," Morin said. "It's great to have the opportunity to hear from some of the folks out in the wings and to really gain an appreciation of the challenges and the opportunities that exist here in Alaska."
One of the highlights of his visit was an Airman's call, where he was able to not only thank Airmen at the base for their ongoing support and dedication, but also highlight the capabilities the team provides to the Pacific theater of operations.
"As we look at the world and the global strategic environment, I'll tell you the Air Force sees a future where our contributions are going to be day-by-day, year-by-year more important," Morin said. "We are also seeing a world in which the shifts of global economic and political powers to the Pacific are going to make bases like (JBER) even more important."
Some examples of JBER's recent contributions include the redeployment of U.S. Army Alaska's 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division and the 90th Fighter Squadron's recent deployment to Guam.
"All of the machinations we had to go through for the theater support package out to Guam showed the confidence we had in the aircraft to make it happen -- my hat is off to that team," he said. "The number of hurdles they had to get over was remarkable."
According to Morin, these examples showcase JBER has an important role in defending the nation's interests and Airmen continue to play a big part in that.
"It is an interesting and challenging time," he said. "The thing we can always count on is innovative and energetic Airmen."
But the focus of the discussion was not just on the shift to the Pacific, Morin also talked about the challenges the Air Force is facing in maintaining a high-quality and ready force.
"When you raised your right hand and swore to uphold and defend the Constitution, you knew it would not always have as much certainty as you would like and you accepted the personal challenges that came along with that," he said.
Morin said that becoming smaller will allow the Air Force to be a high-quality and ready force, able to modernize and become more capable in the future. To do this, Air Force leaders are focused on three critical programs: the F-35 joint strike fighter, KC-46 tanker, and the long range strike bomber.
"We are doing everything to keep them on track. As a result, we are not doing some other things we would like to do," Morin said, but the focus will never stray from Airmen and their families.
Morin stressed the success here and abroad does not just rest on the backs of those who serve in uniform.
"We also have to keep in mind the fact that the folks who serve here are enabled to serve by the families behind them," Morin emphasized. "It's important to recognize that it's not just those who wear their nation's cloth, but those who are standing behind them and lifting them up every day."
While he acknowledged that there are many challenges ahead for the Air Force, Morin emphasized the importance of the Total Force team in meeting those challenges.
"The folks here are doing a tremendous job for the nation and bringing home the hardware to show for it," he said. "You're winning the awards, getting the great inspection results. You are mission oriented and are an exemplar of what can be done by the Total Force team when we work together hand in hand and when we take integration seriously at every level."