SecAF, CSAF visit Bagram Airfield to thank Airmen

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Brigitte N. Brantley
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

As part of their first trip together to the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein stopped by Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, to meet with and thank Airmen assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.

As part of their immersion into the base’s mission, they learned about the several ways the wing’s troops support both Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and NATO’s Operation Resolute Support. Airmen’s contributions range from launching F-16 Fighting Falcon and C-130 Super Hercules aircraft, to conducting medical evacuation and other life-saving missions.

Goldfein, who has visited Bagram Airfield for four consecutive years in his role as CSAF, said the contributions of airpower to missions across the region are undeniable.

“The air component is absolutely critical to our success here because we bring the asymmetric advantage that our forces need to be able to prevail,” Goldfein said. “We’re also helping build an Afghan air force so they can police their own borders, which is what we’re after in the end.”

Barrett, who has been in and out of Afghanistan for decades working with the women and businesswomen of Afghanistan, said visiting for the first time in her new role as Secretary of the Air Force was an honor.

“I’m here because it is such an important location, and it is a place where America is making a difference,” Barrett said. “Aviation is how we project power in this area, and the Airmen here at Bagram are a huge part of the reason why those efforts are successful.”

Both Barrett and Goldfein agreed that another major reason why those efforts are successful is America’s ability to work with partners throughout the region.

“Very often, our allies and our partners have as much to teach us as we have to teach them; so coalition operations are, quite frankly, the American way of fighting,” Goldfein said. “What we bring to the table as a nation is that we never fight alone. History shows that those with allies and partners win, and those without tend to lose, so history is on our side here.”

During an all-call with troops from across the wing, the duo took time to address topics raised by the audience, from gender equality and technological advancements, to enlisted education and the development of the space force.

When asked by Barrett if this was their first deployment, about half the audience raised their hands. Second deployment? Many hands rose. Third deployment? A few more. The most-deployed audience member had been sent overseas 11 times, prompting Barrett to say that hearing that number made her really thankful for everything service members give up to be here.

Barrett and Goldfein’s final words at Bagram were a simple message directed toward the families back home: thank you.

“Approaching the holiday period here, it’s especially hard for the families back home to have their loved ones here doing the nation’s business, so just a shout out to the families back home to say thanks,” Goldfein said. “They have a very special kind of courage when they endure the hardships and separations that have become so much a part of military service in a nation at war.”