SecAF expresses priorities to Vandenberg Airmen

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shane M. Phipps
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James recently visited Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, to meet with Airmen and witness the successful launch of an unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile.

Her three-day visit included a launch operations tour at the Western Range Operations Control Center, a mission brief at the 381st Training Group, a tour of the Joint Space Operations Center (JSPOC) and a breakfast with Airmen.

"I have really been looking forward to this visit," James said. "This base is one of the crown jewels of our space and ICBM mission and I'm extremely impressed by all of you."

In addition to witnessing a Minuteman III launch, James received a brief from members of the JSPOC, defining space threats at a strategic level.

"I got to visit the JSPOC and was able to hear about the importance of our involvement in space," James continued, saying it's her job to explain the Air Force's air, space and cyberspace missions to various audiences.

For those tasked with briefing the most senior leader in the Air Force, the experience proved to be a memorable one.

"It was a great honor to brief her," said Staff Sgt. Emily Shemwell, the 614th Air Operations Squadron NCO in charge of counter-space analysis. "She made me feel very comfortable and I thought it was really great that she took the time to ask us about ourselves even though she had a schedule to maintain."

Senior Airman Daniel Spjute, a 614th AOC space intelligence analyst, said he agreed and his interaction with James will not soon be forgotten.

"It was a humbling experience to be selected as one of the briefers for her visit," Spjute said. "It gives you a sense of accomplishment to know you are helping to inform one of the most important decision makers in the Department of Defense."

The secretary's visit concluded with an all call where she explained her highest priorities to Airmen from around the base.

"The three priorities I established when I came in as the secretary of the Air Force were, number one, taking care of people," she said. "Number two, making sure we provide the right readiness today but also keeping our eye on the future of readiness, which means modernizing our Air Force. The third priority is in everything we do, and in all ways, we have to make every dollar count. We are all ultimately stewards of the taxpayers' dollars. Those dollars are precious and we can't afford to waste any of them."

James also touched on the Air Force's current involvement in operations against the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, commonly referred to as ISIL, or ISIS.

"As you know, the president has said we are going to degrade and ultimately destroy this completely barbaric group," James said. "And roughly 70 percent of these airstrikes over the last several weeks have been by the United States Air Force."

Closing her address to the more than 400 Airmen present, James articulated her appreciation and shared her thoughts on Air Force core values.

"What you do here is extremely important and spending this time with you allows me to go back to Washington and tell this story even better," she said. "It's important to keep those core values of integrity, service and excellence near and dear to you. Live by them without exception."

James concluded by saying the key to every good organization is its people and the Air Force is comprised of great people.

"I'm very proud to now call myself an Airman and to serve alongside all of you," she said.