News: Acting SecAF addresses Air Force issues
Story by Staff Sgt. Jarad Denton
LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. - Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning visited Langley Air Force Base, Va., Sept. 5 and discussed the ever-changing mission, civilian furloughs and budgetary concerns impacting the service.
"I am continually impressed with both the mission and the airmen," the acting secretary said. "The Air Force is a more complicated story - but one worth telling."
Fanning praised airmen for their ability to fulfill such a diverse and sometimes taxing mission. He said the Air Force is more than just aircraft; it encompasses space, cyber space and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
"Yours is a more kinetic service," Fanning said. "Without the Air Force, the other branches could not accomplish their missions. You are truly a technically-oriented service."
Despite the adaptability and perseverance of airmen, Fanning said he recognizes how difficult operations have been in such a turbulent fiscal climate.
"What we are doing to our airmen really bothers me," he said. "Right now, if this were an ideal world, we would be submitting our budget for the 2015 fiscal year. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world.
"We limped through fiscal year 2013 by making short-term, reversible decisions," Fanning continued. "That parked a lot of bills into fiscal year 2014."
These delayed expenses could make the upcoming fiscal year more difficult for the Air Force, its airmen and civilian employees who just came off a furlough period, he added.
"The civilian furlough was one of the hardest decisions the DOD has faced," Fanning said. "We broke faith with our civilian employees."
The decision to implement furloughs came down to a choice between reducing civilian hours or reducing flying hours. Fanning said the mission had to take precedence.
"In my view, our ultimate and highest commitment is to make sure the men and women we send into harm's way are properly trained and prepared," he said. "We are going to go. We are going to win. We are still the world's greatest Air Force. But, right now we are in danger of sending airmen into combat without the proper training."
Despite the retroactive and broad-sweeping cuts from sequestration, Fanning is convinced the Air Force will continue to fulfill its purpose and accomplish its mission.
"We are committed to making the hard decisions now, and shaping the Air Force into a stable entity, not a hollow one," Fanning said. "This is what we do. We succeed. We take impossible situations and make them into achievable solutions. The Air Force is truly remarkable, and I am proud to be part of it."