WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III held a State of the Air Force address at the Pentagon, Aug. 24.
The first topic of discussion was about Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone’s heroic actions aboard a train in France. James briefed that Stone’s unit will be nominating him for the Airman’s Medal.
“American Airmen bind themselves to a set of core values: integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do,” James said. “Airman Stone and his friends personified ‘service before self.’ Their fearlessness, courage, and selflessness inspire us all.”
In her opening statement, James pointed out the many achievements the Air Force has made such as responding to an Ebola outbreak in West Africa, providing humanitarian relief in Nepal, maintaining ongoing commitments in Afghanistan and in the Pacific, and reassuring allies in Europe in the face of a resurgent Russia.
James announced an upcoming training exercise that will involve an F-22 Raptor deployment to Europe. Welsh highlighted the advanced aircraft’s capabilities saying that European allies would like the Air Force to operate with them in multiple types of scenarios.
“Being able to train side by side with them and do that kind of training is really important to us,” he said. “This is a natural evolution in bringing our best air-to-air capability in to train with partners who have been long and trusted ones.”
James also discussed the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant where the Air Force has executed nearly 70 percent of the air strikes and flown more than 48,000 sorties supporting operations in Iraq and Syria.
“We are now one year into Operation Inherent Resolve,” James said. “We’ve said from the start this would be a multi-year fight requiring political, economic, and military actions. We’ve made good progress with our strategy of deny, disrupt, and ultimately defeat. Thanks to airpower, we denied their advances and have completely disrupted their tactics, techniques, and procedures.”
The secretary went on to say the Air Force is still the greatest on the planet because of its Airmen.
“America expects an Air Force that can fly, fight and win against any adversary,” James said. “We must continue to give our nation the Air Force capability it needs today and well into the future. This will only occur by properly investing in our Airmen and our capabilities.”
James and Welsh then answered a multitude of questions from media on a wide-range of topics.