31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
12/22/2014 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- United
States Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Deputy Under
Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, Ms. Heidi H. Grant,
and Mrs. Betty Welsh visited Airmen and their families here, Dec. 22,
During their visit to the 31st Fighter Wing, Welsh and Grant received a
mission brief, participated in an open discussion during breakfast with
Airmen and hosted an all-call to address some of the main challenges the
Air Force will face in 2015 and beyond.
Among the topics discussed were force shaping, fleet modernization and
renewing an operational focus in the face of persisting fiscal
"If we keep you guys, we win. If we lose you, we might as well hang it
up now," Welsh said to more than a thousand Airmen and their families
gathered in a hangar.
Following the all-call, a few outstanding performers were recognized by Welsh for their professionalism and leadership.
Welsh and Grant have been working closely with Department of Defense
leaders, as well as Congress, to strike the right balance between
preserving funding for people and programs and maintaining the capacity
to project power abroad.
"The 510th Fighter Squadron could be ordered to go conduct Baltic Air
Policing in 3 days," Welsh said. "Because of their professionalism and
readiness, there's no question about their ability to make this happen."
During the all-call, Welsh also discussed the importance of pride to the
future of the Air Force. He described a passage he found in his
father's, retired U.S. Air Force Col. Mark A. Welsh Jr., will that
showed how much the Air Force meant to him.
"He'd given specific instructions about his funeral and other events,
but he only underlined one thing: 'Bury me in my service dress,' " Welsh
Before his appointment to CSAF, Welsh served as U.S. Air Forces in
Europe and Air Forces in Africa commander and he noted the continued
importance of air power in this area of responsibility.
"Despite the shift to the Pacific, there are still operational
requirements in Europe," Welsh said regarding the missions that Aviano
is called on to support. "While we have reduced our presence in this
theater, the need for combat capability is still very real."