By Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, visited the 50th Space Wing April 13 engaging Schriever Airmen on the critical role they have in current operations while providing insight on the direction of the Air Force.
Senior leaders, Col. Wayne Monteith, 50th Space Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Randy LaCombe, 50th SW command chief master sergeant, welcomed Secretary Donley before joining more than 20 Airmen for lunch.
“I’m often asked what the best part about being in this job is,” Secretary Donley said. “The best part is actually getting out of Washington to meet and interact with the Airmen who do the business of our Air Force 24/7 .”
During lunch, the secretary spoke about various Air Force topics including the merging of nuclear enterprises and related organizational adjustments, the AF’s role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the recapitalization and modernization of AF assets.
“We’re working on recapitilizing our Air Force which is one of our biggest challenges,” he said. “We’re also focusing on the F-35 (fighter jet) which is one of our largest acquisition programs in the Air Force.”
In addition to the F-35, he added that four out of the 10 largest acquisition programs are space programs, which include the Global Positioning System and the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite.
To wrap up the lunch, Secretary Donley touched on the importance of family.
“Last and certainly not least, it’s important to know how we’re caring for Airmen and their families,” he said. “In fact, every year is Year of the Air Force Family.”
The secretary then took questions from the Airmen for an open and candid discussion on other topics which included the future of the force.
“Do you see any reductions in the Air Force in the next few years,” Airman 1st Class Alan Acosta, 50th Comptroller Squadron, asked Secretary Donley.
“Right now we’re working through some force management challenges,” Secretary Donley said.
He then explained some options under the current force management program such as retraining Airmen to accommodate critically manned career fields.
Following the question and answer session, Secretary Donley was given a wing mission brief and then toured the 2nd Space Operations Squadron where the crew demonstrated a satellite prepass. He then visited the 4th SOPS Mobile Constellation Control Station before heading to some of Schriever’s mission partners, including the 11th Space Warning Squadron and the Space Innovation and Development Center.
Secretary Donley was confirmed as the twenty-second SecAF in October 2008. He’s responsible for the Department of the Air Force, including the organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of its more than 334,000 men and women on active duty; 176,000 members of the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve; 170,000 civilians, and their families. He also oversees the Air Force’s annual budget of more than $110 billion.