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Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley speaks to Senior Master Sgt. Chuck Jenkins, 3rd Munitions Squadron, May 21, 2012, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Donley visited JBER to speak to Airmen about the direction of the Air Force, visit them on the job and find out their concerns. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Zachary Wolf)
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SecAF visits JBER’s Arctic Warriors

Posted 5/22/2012   Updated 5/22/2012 Email story   Print story


by Chris McCann
JBER Public Affairs

5/22/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Airmen from around base gathered at Hangar 20 here May 21, where Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley addressed the assemblage.

"This is a great opportunity to thank you for your recent service and the service of your families," Donley said.

The secretary said visiting with the Arctic Warriors was a special treat, due to the awards and recognitions JBER Airmen have won recently, including an Outstanding Unit Award and numerous Air Force-level and major command-level awards.

He also noted the vital missions and strategically important locale that Alaska presents.
In 2011, approximately 1,000 JBER Airmen were deployed. Around a third of those went to Afghanistan; the rest deployed to the Horn of Africa and other areas in the Central Command area of operations.

The Department of Defense has been emphasizing the importance and continued focus on the Pacific region.

"Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Korea and Japan are critical to U.S. interests," Donley said, emphasizing "close relationships with allies and emerging powers."

The secretary also highlighted the Air Force's efforts to continue to modernize and protect a high-quality, ready force that's able to grow more capable in the future.

"We're redoubling our efforts to eliminate waste and maintain an effective acquisition process," Donley said, although he noted that the current $33 billion in efficiencies found is not enough.

"In short, the best course of action is to trade size for quality," he said. "We will get smaller, but we'll continue to modernize ... to be a superb force."

Some areas will be protected from coming budget cuts, he said - special operations forces, space and cyber in particular.

"But as we get smaller, we cannot protect everything," Donley explained.

He said that as part of its Fiscal Year 2013 budget request, the Air Force is looking to cut 3,900 active-duty personnel, 5,100 Air National Guard personnel and 900 Air Force Reserve personnel to balance force structure changes with manpower requirements. In addition, some programs will be restructured or terminated to protect key Air Force priorities.

One of the changes proposed in the FY13 budget is to move the squadron of F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters from Eielson Air Force Base to JBER, which would mean approximately 540 Airmen relocating to JBER.

"That move does not close Eielson," Donley emphasized.

The secretary also underscored the vital role that Airmen play in making today's Air Force the best in the world.

"Airmen are the living engine that powers the Air Force," Donley said. "It's all just a static display until you add Airmen.

"Our U.S. Air Force is the envy of the world," he said. "You and all members of the Total Force are up to the challenge, and you deserve to be proud of your work here in Alaska."

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