SecAF visits Airmen at Aviano AB

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Katherine Windish
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley visited here June 16 and 17 to meet with Airmen and tour the installation.

During his visit, the secretary received briefings on the wing's mission and operations, dined with junior enlisted Airmen, conducted an Airmen's call and participated in an Airmen leadership school graduation.

During the Airmen's call, he told attendees that he was pleased with his first visit to the base and the work going on here.

"You have an outstanding team here," the secretary said. "I've been very impressed with what I have seen here today. You all deserve to be very proud of the missions that you continue to accomplish at this important location.

"Thanks for all you do to ensure that the 31st Fighter Wing is ready to respond anytime, anywhere," Secretary Donley added.

During his remarks, he highlighted the 31st Fighter Wing's achievements, to include its support of U.S. Central Command operations with deployed personnel and combat capabilities, its partnership capacity building within U.S. European Command and the wing's performance during Operation Odyssey Dawn under U.S. Africa Command leadership.

"During Odyssey Dawn, the 31st (Fighter Wing) excelled as the lead wing for fighter aircraft, and, in a time of urgent need, you began executing combat operations in less than a week," Secretary Donley said. "It was a very, very impressive generation of combat capability ... and Aviano (Air Base Airmen) deserves enormous credit for this successful effort."

Following his comments, he fielded queries about health care, budget cuts, physical training requirements, guard and reserve capabilities, technology and modernization of the force.

"I'm confident that we will be able to maintain our place as the world's finest Air Force despite our fiscal challenges," he said, responding to concerns about recent and future Defense Department budget cuts.

The secretary concluded the Airmen's call by commending the 31st Fighter Wing for a job well done and credited the people here who work so hard.

"Thanks for all of the things you are doing out here through the 31st (Fighter Wing) and all of the things you do at Aviano," said Secretary Donley. "Thank you for being such strong members of a team: supporting three combatant commanders from one location."

"It's an amazing operation to put all this together - to, in a sense, become a joint base, to become a coalition base, on such short notice," he said. "You've worked some real miracles out here. It's an honor to serve with you in the world's finest Air Force."