Acting SECAF impressed by 45th SW Mission, Airmen
By Christopher Calkins, 45th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 13, 2013
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning made his first-ever stop to the 45th Space Wing and got an up-close-and-personal look at the mission and Airmen who work on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base.
For starters, just a few hours after his arrival, Mother Nature and the "Shark Launch Team" combined for a jaw-dropping launch of Delta IX rocket carrying WGS-6 from Complex 37 at the Cape at 8:29 p.m. Aug. 7. That was preceded by a tour of the Morrell Operations Center.
"No base I have visited since I took over this job has put on a show like the one I just saw here," Fanning said. "I wouldn't know how to do ANYTHING that I witnessed first-hand during that launch. The skills, intelligence and actions of our Airmen are just unbelievable," he said.
Early the following morning, the Secretary had a chance for a give-and-take breakfast meeting at the Riverside Dining Facility at Patrick Air Force Base with senior Wing leaders and other selected Airmen and civilian employees.
After breakfast, Fanning was headed back up to the Cape for a tour of the Horizontal Integration Facility, where he was briefed by 1st Lt. Danielle DePaolis and Tech. Sgt. Anthony Caravaggio, both assigned to the 5th Launch Space Squadron.
From there, Capt. Joshua Carmer, 45th Launch Support Squadron, gave Fanning an up-close look at the GPS-11F-5 satellite at Area 59. The satellite is scheduled to launch from the Cape later this year.
After lunch at the newly-renovated Beach House, Fanning made stops at the Air Force Technical Applications Center and the 45th Medical Group's Satellite Pharmacy.
There, he received an in-depth view of the eighth 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.
Later, Mr. Fanning got to visit with members of the 45th Security Forces Squadron. There, he was given a tour of the Combat Arms Training & Maintenance Facility, which is the newest firing range in the Air Force and opened in the summer of 2012.
From there, the Secretary hosted an All Call in a jam-packed base theater where he was introduced by Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, commander, 45th Space Wing.
There, he spoke in detail about the current state of the Air Force and engaged in a lengthy question-and-answer session with members of the audience.
He didn't pull any punches.
"Military drawbacks are cyclical," he said. "It's happened many times in our nation's past and we're going through a very difficult one right now. This one just 'feels' different because we've been asked to make cuts now - instantly. In the past we've been able to structure these over a longer period of time," he said.
He also expressed his gratitude that the furloughs had been reduced from 22 days, to 11 and now six, and apologized that it happened in the first place.
"We certainly don't want to do this again," he said.
He made clear, however, that real fiscal problems lay ahead.
"Fiscal Year 13 was bad. I don't have to remind you of that; you lived it. I can't stand here and say what the future holds, but I know we just can't keep pushing our bills forward to the next year, because sooner or later, those bills will come due. That's where we are now. We have a lot of work to do and a lot of tough questions to answer," he said.
During his closing, he talked solemnly about sexual assaults.
"I know some people feel a sense of fatigue when we talk about this subject. Let me just say if you saw the reports that I read every single day you would feel differently. There is just no place for this kind of behavior in today's Air Force. Every Airman really does count," he said.