BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFNS) --
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody and their spouses were at Barksdale Air Force Base April 2-3 to visit with Airmen and see the Air Force Global Strike Command mission firsthand.
The visit included mission briefings, tours and meetings with Airmen and families from Air Force Global Strike Command, Eighth Air Force, the 2nd Bomb Wing and the 307th Bomb Wing and concluded with an all-call for base personnel.
During the all-call, Welsh thanked the Airmen for what they do to support and defend the nation, and stressed the importance of their role in the nuclear deterrence mission.
"Most people don't know that we have over 40,000 people in our Air Force that focus on the nuclear mission each and every day, all day long, seven days a week, 365 days a year," he said. "That is kind of the backstop for everything else we do in the Department of Defense. The wallpaper for our national security strategy is that nuclear deterrent -- it has been for a long, long time -- and many of you in this room are directly involved in that all the time."
Visiting Barksdale AFB was an opportunity to see the strategic, tactical and operational levels of the Air Force in one place, Cody told the group.
"This is a unique base because of your mission," he said. "It was just amazing and inspiring to see Airmen in action, to see you talk about what you do, see how knowledgeable and good you are at what you do. It motivates us and inspires us to do everything we can every day to make sure you have what you need, and what your families need, to be able to continue to put this uniform on and serve your nation."
During the discussion, the chief of staff and chief master sergeant of the Air Force addressed concerns about budgets, sequestration and changes necessary for the future of the Air Force.
Over the next 10 years, budgets may shrink, the Air Force may get smaller and some modernization may not happen, but if the Air Force keeps recruiting the best people in the country, trains them better than anyone and gives them better equipment than anyone else, they will continue to excel, the general said.
"More importantly, they'll continue to be proud of what they do and who they are, and how well they represent our Air Force and our nation," Welsh said. "I'm a big believer in pride. I think it drives the force. It drives people. It drives performance to a level that you just can't reach without it. This 'people plus pride equals performance' is really kind of fundamental to who we are as a service."
In addition to maintaining pride in what they do, Welsh told the Airmen that in order to take care of each other they have to know each other.
"Every Airman has a story ... whether you're uniformed or civilian, every Airman has a story, and the stories are magic," he said. "Some of them are inspirational. Some of them are incredibly uplifting, some of them are a little sad. But if you don't know the story, you can't lead the Airman."
Welsh concluded his speech with his thoughts on three things he feels are critical to get the Air Force through the rest of this year and into the future to how it is going to look 10 years from now: using common sense, better communication and caring for Airmen.
"If we do those things, we'll be just fine, we'll get through this and we'll come out the other end still the best Air Force on the planet," he said. "Everybody in this organization should be very, very proud of what your squadron, this wing, this command brings to the United States Air Force and to the nation. It's pretty darn impressive."
View the photos of the visit here