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NEWS | Oct. 19, 2011

SECAF visits JB Charleston

By Airman 1st Class Jared Trimarchi

Team Charleston welcomed Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley during his visit to Joint Base Charleston, S.C., Oct. 18.
Donley was greeted by Col. Richard McComb, 628th Air Base Wing commander, and Col. Erik Hansen, 437th Airlift Wing commander, along with other senior staff members.

Donley visited commanders from units throughout the joint base to discuss local missions and later toured the Airman and Family Readiness Center, the base dormitories, the 437th Operations Group, the 437th Aerial Port Squadron, a C-17 Globemaster III and a forward aerial refueling point presentation by the 628th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

The secretary also had the opportunity to have lunch with Airmen and Sailors.

During an All Call, Donley spoke to Airmen and Sailors about the importance of balancing current operations with building for the future.

"We are committed to ensuring the U.S. continues to have the world's finest Air Force for now and generations to come," Donley said.

To achieve this, he said that balance is the key feature of the service's resourcing strategy: balance among the core functions of the Air Force; balance among force structure, readiness, and modernization; and balance among active duty, guard and reserve components.

The secretary spoke in-depth about the realities of the nation's current fiscal environment and its future impact on the Department of Defense.

"I know you are concerned about how policy and budget strategy decision are going to affect your lives and careers in the immediate future and down the road," Donley said. "We are all interested in making sure that we get through this challenging and difficult period ahead of us."

The secretary also addressed the recent budget law passed by Congress which requires DoD to find more than $450 billion in savings over 10 years, including more than $230 billion over the next five years.

"It's going to be tough, but these reductions are considered achievable," he said. "We are going to have to make some tough choices to accept these savings and get to the numbers we are asked to get."

Forty percent of the DOD's budget is spent on the salaries and benefits of government personnel, Donley said.

"Taking care of the men and women doing our national security is job one, but along with that comes a significant responsibility to make sure the pay and benefits that you all earn are sustainable going forward," he said.

Donley also spoke on the success of Joint Base Charleston and the mission carried out by the hard working service members who make it all possible.

"The joint basing process is working," he said. "You are all part of its success and are making it a success for the Air Force, the Navy and the DoD in general. Your efforts make it possible for the United States to move people and supplies wherever we need them, when we need them. Joint Base Charleston has been busy and committed to Air Force and joint operations for many years, and you are living it every single day."

The secretary made a few remarks to thank those who support the military behind the scenes.

"I want to take this opportunity to not only thank the men and women who work here, but the spouses and families who support you in this effort," he said. "This is not your typical eight to five work. It involves a much deeper commitment. But we don't do this work alone. We need the support of the people and the families who support us."

The secretary closed his remarks by reminding the service members of JB Charleston that the Air Force is still the world's best.

"The U.S. Air Force is the envy of every air force in the world," Donley said. "We are committed to ensuring that it stays that way in the future. Whatever the future may bring, I know you are all up to the challenge."