AF Undersecretary visits Travis Published March 12, 2012 By Tyler Grimes 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- Undersecretary of the Air Force Erin Conaton visited here March 8 to receive a first-hand look at Travis operations, which consists of the 60th Air Mobility Wing, the 349th Air Mobility Wing and the 615th Contingency Response Wing - a total integrated force that makes up one of the Air Force's largest air mobility organizations. During her visit, Conaton spoke to Airmen at an Airmen's call and discussed a variety of Air Force issues. In particular, she highlighted the Air Force's recent force structure announcement and explained how the Air Force has sought the proper balance between force structure, readiness and modernization in order to protect a high-quality and ready force that will continue to modernize and grow more capable in the future. The tough economic and fiscal environment is of concern to Air Force and Department of Defense leadership because national deficits and debt are risks to national security, she said. "We can have the greatest military in the world but if the economic basis of this country is weak it will not allow us to be the global power that our leaders expect us to be," Conaton said. Given current fiscal challenges, the Air Force must restructure itself to meet operational demands while remaining ready for combat on a new front. The future of the Air Force depends on modernization and a new focus on efficiency, she said. "When we looked at the strategy, we said we are going to make sure first that we are the most ready, lethal, agile force on the planet," Conaton said. "So we are going to value things like flying hours, we are going to value maintenance, we are going to value things that ensure that at whatever size we are as a force, we are as ready as we can be." One aspect of DOD's new strategic guidance released Jan. 5 is a continued focus on the Middle East area of operations while increasing attention on the Asia-Pacific region. This new strategy should be well-suited for Travis Air Force Base, she said. Travis is often referred to as the "Gateway to the Pacific." "You all know better than anyone that nobody gets anywhere without you getting them there and getting them the fuel that they need," said Conaton. The undersecretary said that innovation and developing efficiency initiatives at the lowest operational levels are keys to mission success, especially in a time when the Air Force is working with constrained budgets. She said Team Travis is leading the pack in both of these regards. "Air Mobility Command has really stepped up to the plate, not only in fuel efficiencies, but more broadly," said Conaton. "Travis has seemed to embrace tremendously the spirit of innovation and efficiency, recognizing that every dollar you are not spending on fuel or on something unproductive is a dollar you could be putting towards the real capability of your unit." Conaton also praised Airmen at Travis for the ground-breaking medical procedures conducted at David Grant USAF Medical Center, their aircrew's use of Mission Index Flying and electronic flight bags, and the flight support squadron's success with the Food Transformation Initiative. In the past several years, DGMC has implemented the use of a state-of-the-art, robotically-assisted, hybrid cardiovascular operating room, which offers the most advanced method for complex cardiac and vascular surgical procedures. Meanwhile, Travis flying and maintenance squadrons recently earned $650,000 for fuel efficiency awards and the successful use of MIF, an airborne solution software that allows pilots to adjust their flight profile in real-time to maximize fuel efficiency while meeting mission objectives. Travis aircrews have also used electronic flight bags consisting of tablet devices to eliminate the extra weight of flight manuals on aircraft during missions which adds up to significant fuel savings. Even though our focus has been on innovation, efficiencies, force structure, and budget cuts, we must not lose sight of the Air Force's most important resource -- it's Airmen, said Conaton. "No matter what, we are going to value Airmen and their families," she said. "We are going to protect family programs and we are going to protect the personnel counts to the maximum degree possible." Col. Dwight Sones, the 60th AMW commander, said he was extremely pleased with the undersecretary's visit to Travis. "This was a tremendous opportunity for our Airmen to show senior Air Force leadership the amazing things they accomplish every day at this base," said Sones. "It also provided them an opportunity on a very personal level to understand the challenges our leadership face, and gave the Airmen valuable insight that leadership is working incredibly hard to protect the things they value most."