|Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James visited multiple Air Force units at five bases in Afghanistan, March 19-22. This is her first official visit outside the United States since being appointed in December 2013.
Her stops included Shindand Airfield, Kandahar, two locations in Kabul and Bagram Airfield.
At Shindand Airfield, she met with Airmen training the Afghan Air Force airmen in English language skills, aircraft maintenance and pilot training in both fixed and rotary wing aircraft.
She then headed to Kandahar Airfield for an update on retrograde operations and remotely piloted aircraft operations and spent time with Air Force senior noncommissioned officers.
In Kabul, James met with Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., International Security Assistance Force and United States Forces-Afghanistan commander, and discussed the importance of the military's support of the upcoming Afghan elections. She also held an Airmen's call with Airmen serving in the capital region.
She concluded her Afghanistan trip at the largest base in Afghanistan, Bagram Airfield, where she visited with multiple units. She received an airfield operations flightline tour, a hospital patient reception and treatment demonstration, and a walk through the Air Force's Camp Cunningham area.
After the unit tours, she held an Airmen's call to talk about her priorities of taking care of people, balancing today's readiness with tomorrow's modernization, and making every dollar count; to reemphasize the core values and further explain force management and compensation issues.
One of the main discussion topics during meetings with deployed Airmen was explaining the current force management programs, including the recent two-week pause.
During the pause, senior Air Force leaders wanted to ensure the numbers were correct and the process of reducing the overall numbers was being done right, said James.
"The key thing that came out of the pause is that rather than doing one round of involuntary boards, we will now do two rounds," said James. "The two rounds will take place over roughly a 15-month period and if you go through round one, you're done."
"The only exception is if you go through round one and there's a discipline issue, then it is possible to go to round two," said James. "We have to do this right because this is so important for the future of our Air Force."
During her departing remarks she praised all Airmen serving in Afghanistan.
"I have seen the Air Force in action in each of the Air Force's core missions: air and space superiority, command and control, ISR, global strike and mobility," said James. "You are coming up with solutions, at times on the fly. Solutions on how to do things better, how to save our government money and how to support the Afghan military.
"I am thoroughly impressed by all of you. What a terrific week this has been; how valuable to see all of you in action to help me tell your story back in Washington."