SecAF: International security is a team sport

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski
The Secretary of the Air Force stressed the importance of joint warfighting and building partnerships during his visit to the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Dec. 22-23.

Airmen, Soldiers and Sailors briefed Michael Donley, the 22nd SecAF, about current and future operations as he toured the wing and other tenant units.

"Years ago, we did a lot of joint merging, but at the senior leader level," Donley told a group of Airmen and Soldiers over breakfast. "Over the last decade, however, that's been pushed down through the force and today, we're more dependent on each other than ever. As people come up through the ranks, they now expect to work with service counterparts. We're all better for it."

The secretary also highlighted the significance of combined missions. Several nations are ready to partner with the United States and "we should reach out to develop those relationships," he said.

"We're simply more effective together," Donley said. "There are a lot of challenging military dynamics, especially in this region, and one of the great things you've all done here is built partnerships. That pays dividends now and in the future, so my hat's off to you."

In addition to discussing the importance of joint and combined partnerships, Donley addressed concerns from Airmen on a variety of topics, with a focus on budget and manning issues.

The secretary explained that Airmen aren't separating at projected rates, which led to an increase in overall manning. This led to the need for Air Force leaders to implement different force shaping measures to meet congressionally mandated levels. For example, a few years ago, the Air Force had almost 5,000 more Airmen than the service was authorized and it cost the Air Force hundreds of thousands of dollars outside of its operational budget. The process is ongoing and the Air Force still has about 1,300 people more than authorized, he explained.

"There's no doubt in the future we'll be a smaller force," he said. "Since 2004, our end strength is lower by about 26,000 people. We have to cut $450 million from our budget over the next ten years. That's a significant amount, but it's doable by making strategic choices."

In spite of the challenges ahead, Donley said there's a commitment to ensuring the Air Force continues to be the world's finest for decades to come.

"Our promise to you is that when young Airmen become chiefs and lieutenant colonels, they'll inherit an Air Force they want," he said. "It'll be smaller, but we're determined to have a modern, effective force."

(Courtesy 380th Air Expeditionary Wing public affairs)