In his keynote address at the Air Force Association’s 2013 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Washington, D.C., Sept. 16, Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning touted innovation as the fabric of the service’s past and future.
The secretary delivered remarks at the start of the three-day conference, which features topics ranging from F-35 Lighting II and KC-46 Tanker programs, cyber, sequestration, strategic guidance and the future of defense structure.
“Airmen characteristically view our security challenges differently; globally and without boundaries,” Fanning said. “Our successes are based on Airmen adapting, innovating and pioneering new solutions. If we make the right choices today building on the innovation we will be the dominant service in the foreseeable future.”
Fanning also praised the talent he saw touring 23 Air Force bases and meeting with more than 10,000 Airmen during his tenure.
“I’ve learned that our Airmen are really, really smart,” the secretary said. “They continually impress me with how skilled they are, how smart they are (and) how proud they are of what they do.”
These travels and visits, Fanning said, led him to realize the seen and unseen presence of the Air Force.
“The Navy has ships that are an obvious form of forward presence … the Army and Marines have boots on the ground that is digestible and visible to the American public,” Fanning said. “The Air Force is everywhere in a lot of places that the public does not see, (with) a more complicated story to tell.”
But sharing the Air Force story, the secretary explained, is more than just communicating core missions.
Other services rely on the Air Force for logistics, space and combat support, which will in turn increase reliance on attributes the service already has: speed, range, flexibility, innovation, precision and resilience, Fanning noted.
“As I look at the strategic environment, I see a future where the speed of information sharing increases exponentially and the global community becomes more international and interconnected.
“As resources grow ever more scarce, the Air Force must capitalize on a future with an increasing airpower bias, Fanning said. “We have to talk about the end kinetic effect of all the Air Force brings to the fight.”
Specifically, Fanning assured, the Air Force provides long-range tailored and persistent options around the globe to meet strategic needs and has done so for the last 66 years.
“We call this global vigilance, global reach and global power,” he said. “If you hide we will find you, if you move we will follow you and if you deserve it we will punish you — we do this anywhere in the world.”