SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) --
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James finished up her first visit to Air Forces Central Command's area of responsibility with a tour of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing March 22-23.
James arrived here March 22 and was introduced to the unit via the wing mission brief before taking center stage at the base theater for an Airmen's all call.
During the all call, James reflected on the past week visiting Airmen at the various bases throughout the AOR and praised everyone she had come in contact with.
"I saw air and space superiority at work at every base along with command and control; mobility; global strike; intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, all five of these core missions are in action on the front lines because our dedicated Airmen, who are at the very tip of the spear (out here)," James said. "This has been a terrific learning week for me, learning about platforms and more importantly meeting several terrific Airmen doing incredible work."
After the all call, James was given the opportunity to visit the dormitories and see how Airmen assigned to the 386th AEW live.
One of those Airmen, Staff Sgt. Tiffany Hicks, of the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group, was thrilled at the opportunity to show off her living accommodations to the distinguished visitor.
"I felt honored and privileged to show the secAF my room," she said. "How many can say 'The secAF saw my room?'"
However, Hicks said the brief encounter was about more than just her room.
"I believe it shows the type of leader she is and will be; that she has a deeply vested and personal interest in us because she truly wants to make a difference," Hicks said. "I look forward to the many changes to come in the near future."
The visiting secretary said it's Airmen like Hicks and the wing's most recent award winners, whom she had dinner with March 22, that make her look forward to the future as well.
"What makes me so optimistic about our future force is the tremendous quality of our Airmen, and the motivation that I saw, dedication and the innovation of these young Airmen," James said. "I have no doubts in the future of our Air Force when I see them with so much energy and pride."
Before her departure, James toured the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group, and was introduced to aircrew members and personnel assigned to the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron and 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Group.
Those interactions reinforced James' belief that the 386th AEW will continue to play a significant role as the AOR transitions from an expeditionary to an enduring, steady-state mission, she said.
"The future is truly bright for this wing because it's had such an important past and present, which will be carried on," James stated. "I am very impressed with the (capabilities) on the mobility side and ISR side, two of the most crucial missions here for the base to our national security strategies."
As James' base tour ended and her AOR orientation closed, she said the lessons learned and the takeaways from the past week will help her continue to fight for the 690,000 Airmen under her purview.
"This was a very valuable week for me, traveling to each base," she said. "I'm now able to take these stories back to Capitol Hill and defend our budget and explain our story. So thank you for the focus you bring to your mission and thank you for doing such a superb job for the United States.