This morning AFSA HQ staff, along with a few local chapter members, attended a breakfast hosted by our good friends at the Air Force Association (AFA) featuring a keynote address from the 23rd Secretary of the Air Force, Mrs. Deborah Lee James. SECAF James opened with a toast to all Airmen but also focused on celebration of Black History Month and specifically mentioned the Tuskegee Airmen, with whom she will meet later in the month.
Discussing the future of the Air Force, SECAF James recognized the fact that the Air Force has been doing more with less and revealed her vision to grow the force over the coming years. With threats coming in the form of North Korea’s weapons testing, China’s growing presence in the South Sea in addition to space and cyber threats, the Air Force is fully engaged in every part of the world. James said, “We’ve never been busier on such a sustained and global basis” and because of such she “is very cognizant that it is having a toll upon [Airmen].”
Balance between readiness and modernization was another key point as SECAF James mentioned that we have an aging aircraft inventory and gaps in technology that are in need of modernization. She mentioned the importance of funding flying hours, investing in weapons systems and maintaining combat exercises like Red Flag. While the retirement of the A-10 has been put on the back burner for now, fleet modernization efforts will continue on platforms such as the F-35 fighter and KC-46 tanker.
Nearing the end of her speech SECAF James shared her concern about the potential for a return of sequestration in coming years which would set the Air Force back in readiness and modernization. She urged supporters to put the pressure on Congress to repeal the Budget Control Act to end sequestration altogether. AFSA couldn’t agree more. HQ looks forward to another enlightening meeting with the Air Force Association.