SecAF makes first visit to Robins AFB

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By Jenny Gordon, Robins Air Force Base Public Affairs / Published August 22, 2014

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James receives a briefing from Col. Kelly Scott Aug. 21, 2014, during a tour of the 461st and 116th Air Control Wings at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. During her tour of Robins Air Force Base, James also visited Air Force Reserve Command, the 78th Air Base Wing and the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex. Scott is the 461st Maintenance Group commander. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tommie Horton)

Lt. Col. Bill Gutermuth, left, briefs Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James as Brig. Gen. Edmund D. Walker listens during her visit to the Force Generation Center Aug. 21, 2014, at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. The center ensures real-time visibility, accountability and long-range planning for reserve forces which provides reservists greater predictability in their deployment schedules. Gutermuth is with the Air Force Reserve Command and Walker is the commander of Force Generation Center, Headquarters AFRC. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tommie Horton)

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James is greeted by Maj. Wendy Palatinus Aug. 21, 2014, on the flightline at Robins Air Force Base Ga. During her visit, James visited the 78th Air Base Wing, Air Force Reserve Command, the 116th and 461st Air Control Wings and the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex. She also conducted an all call at the Museum of Aviation. Palatinus is assigned to AFRC Protocol Office. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tommie Horton)

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Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James visited Robins Air Force Base, Ga. Aug. 21-22 to get an up close look at the installation's diverse and dynamic missions.

During the secretary's first visit to the installation, she spent two days touring several areas of Georgia's largest industrial complex, taking an opportunity to meet with active duty, guard, reserve, civilians and contractors at Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command, the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, 78th Air Base Wing, and the 116th and 461st Air Control Wings.

During an all call Aug. 22, at the Museum of Aviation, James described the experiences of her visit.

"I think you bring the 'wow' factor to the United States Air Force,” she said. “I have been uniformly impressed with everyone I have met, with all of the missions you are working on, as well as the energy, passion, dedication and professionalism that you are bringing in each of your respective areas.

She outlined her top three priorities of taking care of people, balancing today's readiness with tomorrow's modernization and the importance of making every dollar count.

James said she was encouraged by success stories she learned while at Robins AFB. She was impressed with the communication efforts, teamwork and the focus on processes, procedures and safety, all contributing to a good work environment.

"You've been an extremely busy team, with everything from flying sensitive reconnaissance missions, to deployed air traffic control, to depot-level maintenance, as well as partnering with your local community in many ways," she said.

She spoke about the importance of readiness, citing recent events in Iraq and how the Air Force must be able to respond when needed.

She also said she sees the Air Force of the future as more technologically advanced, but also a smaller force because of an environment with tight budgets.

"What is our Air Force going to look like?" James asked rhetorically. "It needs to be modern, we need to keep our technological edge and we need to make sure we are more agile. All of this requires us to put policy, process and procedures and funding in place today."

The secretary said there will be continued talk among Air Force leaders on important programs of tomorrow, such as the F-35A Lightning II, the KC-46A Pegasus tanker, the long range strike bomber and the future of the joint surveillance target attack radar system.

"We will also invest more in space and in our nuclear enterprise going forward," she said. "Getting the balance between today and tomorrow is tricky business, particularly in this tight budget environment."

James thanked the Robins AFB workforce for their dedication, and said she looked forward to returning in the future to learn more.

"Thank you for everything you are doing here,” she said. “As I've travelled around the Air Force, I haven't come across any crowd that is more impressive than the people I have met here. Thank you for your focus on people, on readiness, and for your efforts on making every dollar count.”

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