SECAF addresses Airmen during visit to Offutt


Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson visited Offutt Air Force Base Sept. 22 and 23.

She toured the current STRATCOM facility and also received briefings from the 55th Wing’s Office of the Warrior Advocate and mental health.

During an all call Sept. 22, Wilson outlined her goals for her tenure as secretary of the Air Force.

“Fifty percent of our squadrons are not ready for all the missions that are assigned to them,” she said. “The reason we’re at 50 percent readiness has nothing to do with our squadrons at the top of our organizational chart, and everything to do with the reality that the Air Force is too small for what the nation is expecting of us. We have to restore the readiness of the force so that we can take on the fights the nation is asking of us.”

The priority she spoke about was readiness.

“The budget that we put forward for this year will increase the end strength authorized for the force,” she said. “It’ll put money toward the training of people. We’re going to fight for that budget so we can start to turn this around, so we’re not asking the Air Force to do more than any reasonable person could expect.”

Wilson also spoke about modernization.

“It’s not just one thing,” she said. “It’s modernization across the board. It’s fighters and tankers and the nuclear force and space assets.”

Her third priority is to focus on development of leaders, she said.

“One of the things that I really appreciate after spending three or four hours here getting briefings and talking to people, is the focus on people,” she said. “What matters most in the Air Force, as far as leadership is concerned, is what happens in the squadron. One of our obligations as leaders is to make sure, across the Air Force, there are ways to identify the next generation of first shirts and squadron commanders, and make sure they get the experience, training and education to become exceptional leaders.”

Driving innovation also a priority for Wilson.

“This last Monday at the Air Force Association conference we announced we’re going to conduct a 12-month review of our science and technology strategy for the United States Air Force,” she said. “To be able to look out, 10 or 20 years, say, ‘What are the things we need to invest in today in order to build the Air Force we’ll need for 2030?’ If you think about it, that’s the kind of thing Hap Arnold launched right after the end of the second World War. If it weren’t for their decisions, we never would have had inter-continental ballistic missiles. We never would have had capabilities like space assets.”

Wilson said that kind of innovation won’t change the current Air Force, but it will shape the Air Force in the future.

Wilson’s final priority is strengthening U.S. partnerships and alliances.

“We are stronger together than any of us are alone,” she said. “One of the things I was very pleased to hear about this morning was what we’re doing with the Rivet Joint. The British government has three KC-135s. They are partners with us, and they’ll continue to be for the long term. One of the things that is wonderful about this country and about what we stand for is that we have allies. If you think about it for a second, our adversaries really don’t. Because what we defend, the way of life we enjoy and the freedoms that we enjoy continue to be the envy of the world.”

Wilson discussed her intent to simplify the instructions and guidance that regulate Air Force life.

“I expect you to live by our values,” she said. “Integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. If we live by our values, sometimes the specifics of rules don’t matter so much.”

Wilson said many of the current Air Force instructions contain unnecessary guidelines for tasks and activities.

“You know something? I don’t think we need an Air Force instruction to tell people at Offutt Air Force Base how to build an obstacle course,” she said. “I think you can probably figure that out for yourselves. So we’re going to try to review, rescind, revise, simplify and write in the English language, all 1,306 Air Force Instructions in the next 24 months.”

Wilson also spoke about those living in areas devastated by recent hurricanes.

“We take care of each other, and our thoughts and prayers are with those who were recovering from those natural disasters, and our thanks are to the Airmen and Marines and Soldiers across the country, and our first responders who have helped families in need,” she said. “It’s been a rough few weeks and we very much appreciate the service of everyone who is helping.”