SecAF visits 45th Space Wing
By 2nd Lt. Alicia Wallace, 45th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 25, 2013
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley visited with 45th Space Wing Airmen here Feb. 21 as part of a weeklong visit to Florida.
The secretary visited Patrick to not only thank Airmen, civilian and military alike, for their outstanding service, but also to discuss the potential impacts the service will be dealing with under sequestration.
"You stepped forward, you raised your hand, and you said 'I will,'" said Donley, who also participated in senior leader meetings at MacDill Air Force Base and the 29th Annual Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in nearby Orlando during the week. "Thanks for your service to the United States Air Force. You are continuing a heritage we are all honored to be a part of."
During his visit to Patrick, the secretary had lunch with military and civilian leaders and award nominees from across the wing, toured various base locations and held an "Airman's Call" to discuss the latest challenges affecting the service.
After lunch, Donley participated in a guard mount with security forces Airmen, and toured the newly-renovated Combat Arms Training Facility. There, he was able to watch 9mm pistol qualification training at the state-of-the-art facility.
The secretary also met with the "Mighty Medics" at the 45th Medical Group's health clinic and satellite pharmacy. He received an in-depth view of the 8th-busiest pharmacy in the Air Force and had a unique opportunity to go behind-the-scenes, where technicians, volunteers and Airmen process over 439,000 prescriptions annually for 53,000 DoD beneficiaries.
From there, it was to the base theater, where the secretary held an "Airman's Call," where he thanked 45th SW Commander Brig. Gen. Anthony Cotton and his team for their hospitality, and then quickly turned his attention to the current challenges facing not only the Air Force, but Airmen and their families.
"We're all concerned about our nation's financial gridlock issues. Sequestration is not a course any of us would choose and I am deeply saddened to be talking about this. It's an unfortunate and distasteful reality for our civilian Airmen to digest," he said, highlighting the potential impacts to overall readiness and modernization programs as well as the recent notifications of potential civilian furloughs.
Mitch Singer, a civilian employee with wing staff, agreed with the secretary, and appreciated the straight-talk message.
"This [sequestration] is not anything anyone here takes lightly. Am I disappointed? You bet but it's good to know the senior leadership in the DoD and the Air Force is doing all they can to get this fixed," he said. "Like the Secretary said, our civilian workforce is highly valued and it takes the 'total force' to reach mission success here and at every base throughout the Air Force."
Donley went on to discuss the difficult challenges that lie ahead, while also stressing that the Air Force has been in these "less-than-favorable" situations before.
"In each and every turn in the road prior to this, the Air Force has continued to provide global vigilance and power to the friends and allies who count on us," he said. "We'll get through this, and we'll do so together."
General Cotton thanked the secretary for his visit, and echoed the secretary's words.
"Our total force team made up of uniformed personnel, government civilians and contractors work in concert to ensure we accomplish our mission safely and with precision," Cotton said.
And while the fiscal environment remains uncertain, Donley stressed the importance of a continued emphasis on mission accomplishment.
"Bottom line up front: Keep doing what you are doing. Stay focused on your mission," he said.
"Thanks for choosing the Air Force and thanks to your families as well. In so many ways, this is a family business. It takes a nation to produce an Air Force, and it is my great honor to serve with you."