By Master Sgt. Timm Huffman, 439 Airlift Wing Public Affairs / Published May 05, 2014
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James spoke to Airmen and held a question and answer session in the base hangar May 2, 2014, during her visit to Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Brian P. Boynton)
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James addresses members of the 349th Airlift Wing May 2, 2014, at Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass. During her visit, James toured the base, spoke with Airmen, held a question and answer session on base and met with congressional delegates. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Brian P. Boynton)
The 439th Airlift Wing hosted Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Lt. Gen. James Jackson, the chief of Air Force Reserve, May 2.
The Air Force selected Westover as one of several bases James visited in the northeastern U.S. to gain a better understanding of the total force concept.
"I'm a big believer in our total force -- our National Guard, reserve and our active components -- working in an integrated way," she said. "I wanted to come and visit several National Guard and Reserve bases, and there were none I could think of that would better teach me about how integration is working day-in and day-out than Westover."
The visit came just days after the announcement that Westover will lose eight C-5 Galaxys, 59 full-time air reserve technician and 275 traditional reservist slots. During her three-hour visit at Westover, James and Jackson met with base leadership and had lunch with military and civilian members of the base at the Westover Club.
A short "all call" was held in the base hangar after lunch and about 300 reservists and civilians attended. After speaking to the audience about the force cuts and her objectives for her tenure, she took time to answer questions.
One point she reiterated was that as the Air Force moves forward in a difficult budgetary environment, a balance must be struck between the mission of today and preparing for tomorrow. Part of that will be a bigger reliance on the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, providing for the current mission and investing in modernization, upgrades and new technology.
"We will become a smaller total force, but with a greater reliance on our Guard and Reserve. It is crucial that we remain ready and that we modernize, as we will be here at Westover with the C-5M," James said.
Following the question and answer session, James and Jackson toured the Regional Isochronal Inspection Dock, where they received a close-up view of what goes into overhauling a massive C-5 airlifter.
"I'm very, very impressed with the patriot wing," she said, shortly after the maintenance tour. "Looking at all of the accolades, all of the deployments, all of the humanitarian assistance the wing has provided, I can boil it down to just a couple of words: This wing delivers."