HomeNewsArticle Display

Kendall’s first trip highlights Air and Space Force roles in responding to China, strategic competitors

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall hands out coins to Airmen after having a meeting with them at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 17, 2021. Kendall visited the base to meet Airmen and Guardians and emphasized his top priorities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall hands out coins to Airmen after having a meeting with them at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 17, 2021. Kendall visited the base to meet Airmen and Guardians and emphasized his top priorities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall shares his vision with Airmen during a town hall at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 17, 2021. Kendall visited the base to meet Airmen and Guardians and discuss activities aimed at enhancing interoperability with allies and partners to ensure peace and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall shares his vision with Airmen during a town hall at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 17, 2021. Kendall visited the base to meet Airmen and Guardians and discuss activities aimed at enhancing interoperability with allies and partners to ensure peace and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall is briefed by Col. Corey Simmons, 60th Air Mobility commander on the Travis Air Force Base mission at Travis AFB, Calif., Aug. 16, 2021. Kendall made a stop at Travis AFB and was greeted by wing leadership. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall is briefed by Col. Corey Simmons, 60th Air Mobility commander on the Travis Air Force Base mission at Travis AFB, Calif., Aug. 16, 2021. Kendall made a stop at Travis AFB and was greeted by wing leadership. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall is briefed by Col. Corey Simmons, 60th Air Mobility commander on flightline operations from the tower at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., Aug. 16, 2021. Kendall made a stop at Travis AFB and was greeted by wing leadership. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall is briefed by Col. Corey Simmons, 60th Air Mobility commander on flightline operations from the tower at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., Aug. 16, 2021. Kendall made a stop at Travis AFB and was greeted by wing leadership. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall walks with Gen. Ken Wilsbach, Pacific Air Forces commander after arriving at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 16, 2021. During the visit, Kendall emphasized the importance of diversity and inclusion, innovation, Airmen readiness, and embracing U.S. relationships with allies and partners to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall walks with Gen. Ken Wilsbach, Pacific Air Forces commander after arriving at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 16, 2021. During the visit, Kendall emphasized the importance of diversity and inclusion, innovation, Airmen readiness, and embracing U.S. relationships with allies and partners to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall shares his vision with Airmen during a town hall at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 17, 2021. Kendall visited the base to meet Airmen and Guardians and discuss activities aimed at enhancing interoperability with allies and partners to ensure peace and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall shares his vision with Airmen during a town hall at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 17, 2021. Kendall visited the base to meet Airmen and Guardians and discuss activities aimed at enhancing interoperability with allies and partners to ensure peace and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall stands with Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, commander of Space Operations Command, in front of a Space-Based Infrared System model at Peterson Space Force Base, Colo., Aug. 18, 2021. During his first visit to Peterson SFB, Kendall met with U.S. Space Command, U.S. Northern Command and SpOC leadership, as well as Airmen and Guardians to recognize their roles in protecting the nation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall stands with Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, commander of Space Operations Command, in front of a Space-Based Infrared System model at Peterson Space Force Base, Colo., Aug. 18, 2021. During his first visit to Peterson SFB, Kendall met with U.S. Space Command, U.S. Northern Command and SpOC leadership, as well as Airmen and Guardians to recognize their roles in protecting the nation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall greets Gen. Ken Wilsbach, Pacific Air Forces commander after arriving at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 16, 2021. During the visit, Kendall emphasized the importance of diversity and inclusion, innovation, Airmen readiness, and embracing U.S. relationships with allies and partners to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall greets Gen. Ken Wilsbach, Pacific Air Forces commander after arriving at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 16, 2021. During the visit, Kendall emphasized the importance of diversity and inclusion, innovation, Airmen readiness, and embracing U.S. relationships with allies and partners to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall shares his vision with Airmen during a town hall at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 17, 2021. Kendall visited the base to meet Airmen and Guardians and discuss activities aimed at enhancing interoperability with allies and partners to ensure peace and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall shares his vision with Airmen during a town hall at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 17, 2021. Kendall visited the base to meet Airmen and Guardians and discuss activities aimed at enhancing interoperability with allies and partners to ensure peace and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AFNS) --

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall didn’t as much foreshadow his motivation as leader of the Air and Space Forces as broadcast it in large, bright neon letters. “We achieve deterrence by having a strong enough force that the potential enemy is afraid of us. That’s my job; to give you and all your teammates the things they need to send a message to China that going to war would be a really bad idea,” he said to Airmen and Guardians at a town hall Aug. 17 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The base, which is headquarters for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and Pacific Air Forces, was the first stop on Kendall’s first official trip as Secretary. It was no random choice. Nor was it an accident that it came less than a month into his tenure.

“You’re out here, serving as Airmen and Guardians, on the frontline of the theater that’s going to determine the strategic future of our government, of our way of life, of democracy itself, I think,” he continued.

The week-long trip in Hawaii (with a brief stop at
Travis Air Force Base, California en route), then Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, and finally Offutt AFB, Nebraska, was designed to expose Kendall to more granular operational details, and to hear opinions and experiences on a wide array of issues from Airmen, Guardians and senior leaders. Yet, the dominant thread connecting all of it was how to configure the Air and Space Forces to meet growing challenges presented by China’s military expansion.

Kendall explained it this way during his town hall. “My job is to make sure combatant commanders of today ⁠— and in the future ⁠— have the forces they need to win.”

How best to shape the Air and Space Forces to meet the emerging threats while meshing with other services, partners and allies, however, is a question that is still evolving. Kendall said the trip was designed to refine his thinking and to hear directly from commanders in highly classified briefings what they are doing now, what they need and what they believe the future demands will be.

In broad strokes, Kendall said what he learned from the trip reinforced his view that the Air and Space Forces must move fast but with analytical rigor to give the clarity necessary for senior leaders, as well as rank-and-file Airmen and Guardians, to appreciate evolving threats and challenges.

“There’s a general recognition, I think, of the threat that China potentially poses to the United States. We’re not back in the Cold War. It’s not the same,” Kendall told the Airman and Guardians at the town hall. “But we are back into a serious fight with a serious competitor. And I think we have, to some extent, lost our corporate memory about that.”

Kendall’s perspective is not unique.

Senior policy and military leaders across the White House, Pentagon and beyond have highlighted China, and to a lesser extent, Russia, as the United States’ “pacing challenge” that dictates many of the policies, practices, spending and operational decisions across the Department of Defense.

At Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Kendall had briefings on China as well as what the Indo-Pacific theater might be like in 2030. He toured the 613th Air Operations Center and had a “listening session” lunch with Airmen and Guardians.

At Peterson SFB, he met commanders and senior leaders attached to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or
NORAD, the joint U.S.-Canada operation responsible for aerospace warning and aerospace control across North America. He also met with leaders of U.S. Northern Command, another major command responsible for protecting the homeland by providing “command and control of Department of Defense homeland defense efforts and to coordinate defense support of civil authorities.”

He also received briefings from another major operation at Peterson SFB ⁠— U.S. Space Command.

“The ability to operate in space is essential to deterrence. There’s no question about that in my mind. Without the capabilities the Space Force brings, the Air Force and all the rest of the services are going to have a very hard time doing their missions,” he said.

While at Offutt AFB, he received five hours of briefings on nuclear deterrence, modernization, command and control and other related topics from senior commanders at U.S. Strategic Command.

Sprinkled into every stop were listening sessions with Airmen and Guardians. He heard concerns during those sessions about mental health and housing, retention, the coronavirus, cyber warfare, Afghanistan, and how Airmen and Guardians fit into larger strategic goals.

“Mental health is health. We have to take that just as much into consideration as physical health,” he said in response to one question. He also urged Airmen and Guardians to get vaccinated against
COVID-19. “If there’s one message I’d like to give to you today, it’s, if you’re not vaccinated, please get vaccinated.”

“I did get a very good sense of our current operational planning and thoughts about the various theaters,” Kendall said when asked to summarize the trip. “I heard the strategic point of view at STRATCOM, the defense of the United States point of view from NORTHCOM, the Pacific point of view from Indo-Pacom, and the status of our efforts in space from Space Command in Colorado.

That gave me a much better feel for what my customers [the combatant commands] are worried about and about the kind of tools they need to address the problems they’re dealing with today and the problems they’ll face a few years down the road,” he said.

There was general agreement, he said, about the threats posed by China and other “strategic competitors” such as Russia.

At the same time, he warned that the focus cannot waver.

“If I were totally comfortable with our capabilities relative to those of our adversaries, I wouldn’t be here,” Kendall admitted, noting that he left retirement to step back into public service largely to help the nation respond to the new and complicated threats to national security.

 “I saw a lot of great people doing great work, and I’m very proud of the people and what they’re doing out there. That doesn’t mean we don’t have things we have to address,” he said.

At every stop, Kendall repeated his “One Team, One Fight” approach to the job. That term ⁠— broadly defined to include not only the Air and Space Forces, but other services, government agencies, partners and allies ⁠— embodies what he says is the essential operating approach to meet the challenges posed by China and Russia.

“It’s a privilege and an honor to wear this uniform and the country is depending on you,” Kendall said during the JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam town hall, adding “the competitors we have now, both of them, China and Russia, are formidable.”

“I have a little aphorism I use, a little saying, ‘One Team, One Fight.’ It’s an old Army saying from many, many years ago. It represents where we need to be. We need to be focused. We need to work together, we need to be focused on the problem that we have. … There’s strength in unity and divided we will fall. That’s pretty simple,” he said.

Engage

Twitter
10 years have passed since #DontAskDontTell was repealed. @UnderSecAF Gina Ortiz Jones celebrated the milestone by… https://t.co/i1kTNvykzM
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: It’s going to take all of our Airmen, Active-duty, Reserve and Guard to secure this nation’s future. https://t.co/4P3CUiQ…
Twitter
RT @UnderSecAF: A few years ago, only two small businesses joined us at AFA--this year we have 40+. @AFWERX works with these companies ever…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: SecAF is meeting with defense industry leaders today during the @AirForceAssoc’s #ASC21 events. In his #OneTeamOneFigh
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Our rate of change needs to increase. We must move with a sense of urgency today in order to rise to the challenges of to…
Twitter
.@AETCommand is working to remove barriers in the pilot candidate selection process. Learn more about the changes… https://t.co/ANcqVRdsNz
Twitter
.@UnderSecAF Gina Ortiz Jones spoke on the anniversary of DADT... https://t.co/zZYqHOTp8V
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: "We are in a national, strategic, long-term contest with a formidable adversary and what you do every day is important t…
Twitter
"We must move with a sense of urgency today in order to rise to the challenges of tomorrow. Because the return to s… https://t.co/yeYvmOaOos
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Our collaboration with industry is integral to ensuring we are able to compete, deter and win tomorrow against peer adver…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Impossible ends with you. https://t.co/e6ebHtvBDg
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: SecAF Kendall addressed the @AirForceAssoc's Air, Space & Cyber Conference earlier today: "I intend to be relentless in…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: SecAF Kendall just finished addressing the @AirForceAssoc's Air, Space & Cyber Conference. The topics he spoke on includ…
Twitter
RT @UnderSecAF: Happy #DontAskDontTell Repeal Day! Honored to commemorate the repeal’s 10th anniversary with some of our LGBTQ Airmen & Gua…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,377,003
Follow Us