The U.S. Senate recently confirmed Lisa S. Disbrow as the new under-secretary of the Air Force to ensure efficient and effective management of Air Force resources.
In this position, Disbrow oversees the Air Force’s annual budget of more than $120 billion and serves as the co-chair of the top Air Force corporate decision-making body, the Air Force Council.
“Being prior Air Force and having walked in those shoes helps me understand and appreciate the challenges and stresses our airmen face on a daily basis,” Disbrow said. “I know when we are creating visions of how it will be implemented in the field, because I have been there. We have incredibly bright people in the Air Force and I get a sense of how valuable every single person is and how hard they work.”
Working with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the vice chairman prior to her current position, Disbrow gained a lot of understanding of the issues the service leaders faced.
“That insight will help me enormously in my new position because I saw things across the full spectrum of issues, and to see and understand the joint operations side is a huge benefit for me,” Disbrow said. “The insight to processes like (Office of the Secretary Defense), budgeting and programming, (just to name a few) is invaluable to me here and I am completely amazed at the people who come from outside and can do this job; it’s a lot of complex, moving pieces.”
Disbrow discussed her top priorities, starting with ensuring airmen know and feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.
“The work we do is important and I want every airman to know how much they matter,” Disbrow said. “The vice chief and I want to make sure airmen who are separated or retired with symptoms of (post-traumatic stress disorder) get what they need.
Taking care of airman has been the number one priority for the secretary of the Air Force since she took charge and one of the best ways to do that is by growing the force.
“We just got approval to plus up our numbers so the question we need to ask is, as we grow, how do we bring capable and diverse people into our ranks?” Disbrow asked. “We need a wide range of skills and a diverse group of people with different ways of thinking. It will help our airmen out enormously to grow quick, but we need to make sure we are growing with the right people.”
She also wants to push hard for top-line dollars the Air Force needs to support the Defense Department and the nation.
“I want to make sure we get what we need to focus on getting the mission done,” Disbrow said. “I also want to invest in our IT infrastructure because it supports every mission we have. We need to be able to modernize that so it can continue to support the growing needs of the Air Force.”
As under-secretary of the Air Force, Disbrow is also charged with providing for the welfare of more than 664,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian airmen and their families.
“Every morning when I walk in through the (Pentagon) River Entrance, I pause and think about the enormity of the things going on here and how I play a role in all of that — it’s very exciting,” Disbrow said.
Disbrow also discussed the role every Airman plays in the overall Air Force mission.
“Every person, no matter the rank, (has) a critical role to play in the mission and we need them to think about ideas on how they can make things better for the next person or for the next mission,” Disbrow said. “Our people are highly valued. Airmen for life – that’s what I want them to think. I want them to know they are part of something really important and we need their ideas. Every single person is mission critical.”