SecAF: Hanscom enabling linked AF future

  • Published
  • By Chuck Paone
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
Systems that help collect, process and push data to where it's needed quickly and securely are vital to Air Force operations, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley said during a visit here April 25.

"Working independently and also with world-class high tech talent in the Boston area, you help ensure that our Airmen have the innovative technology they need and should have and will have for mission success," he said.

In addition to the Airman's call, Donley also met with military and civilian award winners, and received briefings and technology demonstrations from various program offices.

Citing Hanscom's many accomplishments, the secretary singled out a few "game-changers that will help chart the future for our Air Force."

He lauded the Responsive Cyber Division for working side by side with the 24th Air Force.

"They're giving us the ability to rapidly improve capabilities in the dynamic cyber environment," he said.

Donley also spoke about the air operations center, which he called "a command and control tool without equal." And he commended Hanscom for working to enhance reliable and secure communications.

"Whether those comms go from halfway around the globe or from an F-22 to a nearby aircraft, Hanscom is enabling a linked future for our Air Force," he said.

At the strategic level, the Air Force is facing many challenges, the secretary noted, and nearly all of them are driven or heavily affected by budget constraints. The heavy operational tempo of the last decade also has taken a toll on Air Force weapon systems and people.

"Unit readiness has declined significantly from 2003 onward," he said. "With the rebalance to the Asian Pacific and the continued presence in the Middle East and Africa, demand for Air Force capabilities will remain constant and perhaps even rise in the next decade. And we must improve readiness in order to prevent a hollow force."

Shortages in Air Force operations and maintenance and overseas contingency operations accounts continue to hamper these efforts, he said, noting that sequestration requires the Air Force to subtract $10 billion from the last seven months of the fiscal year.

"With the steep and late FY 13 budget reductions brought on by sequestration, the readiness hole we've been trying to climb out of just got deeper," Donley said.

Effects on modernization are no less severe. In fact, given Congressional resistance to force structure changes, infrastructure reductions and military compensation amendments - combined with the required focus on readiness - modernization could be affected disproportionally in the years ahead.

If left unaddressed, the resulting deficiencies will "seriously undermine our ability to accomplish the mission the nation asks us to undertake."

However, Air Force leadership will continue to fight for the capabilities modernization provides, he said, vowing to maintain an Air Force that is "the envy of the world."

"We do face difficult choices, but the glass is at least half full," Donley said. "I commend the Airmen who make it so."