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SecAF visits Spangdahlem AB

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley speaks to 52nd Fighter Wing Airmen during an Airmen’s Call at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, July 13, 2012. During his visit, the secretary learned about the mission of the 52nd FW and the unique capabilities the base provides to the European theater of operations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Matthew B. Fredericks)

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley speaks to 52nd Fighter Wing Airmen during an Airmen’s Call at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, July 13, 2012. During his visit, the secretary learned about the mission of the 52nd FW and the unique capabilities the base provides to the European theater of operations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Matthew B. Fredericks)

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley speaks to 52nd Fighter Wing Airmen during an Airmen’s Call at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, on July 13, 2012. During his visit, the secretary learned about the mission of the 52nd FW and the unique capabilities the base provides to the European theater of operations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Matthew B. Fredericks/Released)

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley speaks to 52nd Fighter Wing Airmen during an Airmen’s Call at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, July 13, 2012. During his visit, the secretary learned about the mission of the 52nd FW and the unique capabilities the base provides to the European theater of operations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Matthew B. Fredericks)

Col. David Julazadeh, 52nd Fighter Wing commander, greets Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley upon his arrival at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, on July 13, 2012.  During his visit, the secretary learned about the mission of the 52nd FW and the unique capabilities the base provides to the European theater of operations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Matthew B. Fredericks/Released)

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley speaks to 52nd Fighter Wing Airmen during an Airmen’s Call at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, July 13, 2012. During his visit, the secretary learned about the mission of the 52nd FW and the unique capabilities the base provides to the European theater of operations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Matthew B. Fredericks)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- The Air Force's top civilian leader met 52nd Fighter Wing leaders and service members here July 13.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley visited the base as part of a familiarization tour and to speak with Airmen about the unique capabilities Spangdahlem Air Base provides to the European theater of operations.

"Our Air Force and our country need you to be great at what you do every single day," Donley said during an Airmen's Call. "You're demonstrating that here at Spangdahlem. You deserve to be proud of your important work here, and we are certainly proud of you.

"Thank you all for your service to the United States Air Force," said the secretary.

During his visit, Donley toured base facilities, listened to a mission briefing from the 52nd Fighter Wing commander, Col. David Julazadeh, and ate lunch with more than 50 wing Airmen.

At the lunch, the secretary said he regretted not being able to personally speak with each Airman at the base, but that group settings enabled him to publically recognize service members for their leadership abilities and contributions to mission success.

It is an exciting time to be an Airman in the Air Force, Donley said, and while there are challenges -- fiscal constraints, heightened operations tempo, force reshaping -- he is proud to serve with the nation's finest. He explained that Air Force senior leaders monitor and develop the big picture, strategic vision and the way ahead for the entire force, but that it was the Airmen at the major command, wing and unit levels who are the real testament to America's airpower.

"It's about the Airmen who accomplish the mission 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said. "We appreciate the work they do day in and day out."

Donley also spoke about the future of fighter operations, saying the force is continually looking for ways to modernize capabilities to maintain and sustain world-class military power. At the same time, the force must balance those capabilities among cyber, space and aerospace realms, he said.

Five to 10 years from now, the Air Force will be even stronger, said Donley. He explained that the service's senior leaders made a decision at the strategic level to reduce the size of the force but still retain specific, relevant capabilities for any current or future contingency while also leaving room for modernization. The path to having a smaller, smarter and more capable Defense Department branch relies upon the development and education of junior Airmen, added the secretary.

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