By Ed White
Special to American Forces Press Service
July 2, 2008 - The U.S. Air Force core values of "integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do" will remain in place, Acting Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley said during a visit here yesterday. In his first visit to an Air Force base since being named to the position, Donley held a candid town-hall style meeting with members of Air Force Space Command.
"We are working through the issues confronting the Air Force," he said, referring to the nuclear enterprise issues and others that caused his predecessor to resign. "We need to build back inner confidence in our Air Force, and we need to rebuild our credibility."
Donley outlined three perspectives he brings to the position.
"The first thing you will get from me is 'jointness,'" he said. "The Air Force is one part of a big team." He outlined some of the ways the Air Force contributes to the ongoing joint fight in Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terrorism, both in the United States and around the world.
"I know the Air Force is contributing lots of mission sets and capabilities, and it is an impressive array, I can tell you," the acting secretary said.
A related theme is support to the war on terrorism.
"This is a priority for this Air Force," he said. "We have more than 30,000 airmen deployed around the world, engaged in the war on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan."
One of Donley's first acts upon appointment was to visit Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C., and speak with wounded airmen. From this visit, he said, he gained an appreciation of their sacrifices and inspiration from them as well, noting that they all expressed their desire to heal quickly and get back into the fight. Donley also recognized those who stand behind and support the people on the front lines.
His third theme, the acting secretary said, is the welfare of airmen. He said that although the Air Force is a technology-driven service, its most important asset is the knowledge, experience and commitment of the people who make it all work to support the warfighter.
"The welfare of our airmen is very important to me," he said, "and I will try to strike the best balance in the Air Force budget between equipment needs and our people."
After addressing his overall concerns, he spoke to the issue closest to Air Force Space Command members right now.
"The Air Force's credibility has been tarnished, and we need to rebuild it," he said. "The Air Force leadership needs to develop a roadmap for the nuclear enterprise to put us on the right track for stewardship of the nuclear mission that the defense establishment and the American people expect from us.
"There is no quicker route to recovery," he continued, "than the power of tens of thousands of airmen and civilians rededicating themselves to the high standards of excellence that have always been the hallmark of the world's best Air Force."
In addition to airmen here, Donley also carried this message to airmen at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.; Barksdale Air Force Base, La.; and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, over two days.
(Ed White works at Air Force Space Command Public Affairs.)