James discusses coalition efforts at press club luncheon

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  • By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Command Information
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James discussed her two-week trip of seeing firsthand the Air Force’s role in coalition efforts against violent extremist organizations during a National Press Club luncheon Dec. 2.

“I had the opportunity to see our Airmen of all ranks serving our nation, doing everything from advising foreign militaries to gathering and analyzing intelligence, coordinating the movement of supplies and equipment and even flying into combat,” James said.

James mentioned she learned from several meetings that other nations expressed interest in buying or upgrading equipment along with training and exercises.

“I believe the United States is the partner of choice for all (countries),” James said. “Building partnership capacity is really, really important especially in light of our ongoing efforts against violent extremist organizations.”

Updating the foreign military sales process by setting a pre-approved technology transfer baseline, James said, would shorten a lengthy process to assess whether a particular capability can be transferred and help build future capacity through foreign military sales.

“This is just the beginning of our efforts,” James said.

The Air Force, she said, is keeping up the fight and pressure against all violent organizations. Senior commanders have indicated that the airpower strategy of degrading and ultimately destroying Daesh is proceeding at pace and getting the job done.

“Daesh no longer has the ability to operate freely in somewhere between 20 to 25 percent of the populated territory it held one year ago in Iraq and Syria,” James said. “Their command and control centers, supply lines, equipment and training sites have been hit.”

Deliberate targeting is used daily to detect, identify and develop a plan against the target in sufficient time. There are three steps in the process, such as study and collecting data, observing enemy activity and planning the best suited course of action.

“We’re intensifying our efforts as much as possible, particularly as the indigenous ground forces improve and particularly as we get more of these deliberate targets,” James said.

James’ team witnessed the essential role the Airmen who control remotely piloted aircraft are to the mission. In the future, a series of new initiatives will be announced to up the ante and alleviate stress from the RPA community.

“Ultimately our goal in all of this is to direct some positive change from the top down and we also want to do a good job of listening from the bottom up and directing changes that come directly as suggestions from our Airmen,” James said.

James believes the Air Force has many hotspots and challenges to confront, but it’s still the best.

“My top three priorities are taking care of people, balancing readiness and modernization so that we get the right mix for today as well as the right mix of investment for tomorrow, and in light of these very tough budget times we're facing, we have to make every dollar count. We have to be efficient,” James said.