Donley addresses challenges ahead during Kirtland visit

USAF photo Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley is greeted by Col. Robert Maness, the 377th Air Base Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Lee Thompson, the 377th ABW command chief, on Oct. 14 as he arrives for an “All Call” at Kirtland Air Force Base theater.

By Marie Vanover: 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE — Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley visited Kirtland Air Force Base on Oct. 13 and 14 to meet with base leaders, speak with airmen serving here and address members of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.

During his visit, Donley visited numerous base organizations, including the 377th Air Base Wing, the Air Force Safety Center, the Air Force Inspection Agency and the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center.

The secretary was the keynote speaker at the chamber of commerce banquet where he spoke to about 400 attendees on the changing nature of warfare and the challenges for today’s Air Force. He remarked about the historical relationship between the base and the city, which goes back to 1939.

“Kirtland is a unique base with capabilities from across every core function of our Air Force — the air base wing, nuclear systems wing, special operations wing, space development and test wing, and Air National Guard wing — all exist at this location, along with four centers of excellence, two research lab directorates and three agencies, plus the Department of Energy and the Sandia National Laboratories,” he said.

He thanked the people in the audience for their leadership and their efforts on behalf of the Air Force, emphasizing the important role they play in support of airmen and national security.

During an All-Call with uniformed airmen and civilians from across the base, Donley spoke of the budget constraints the Air Force faces today. He said he expects the Air Force will become more productive and proficient in its roles and combat capabilities to meet the challenges ahead. He cited the partnership between the 58th Special Operations Wing and the 150th Fighter Wing as an example of things to come as the Air Force adjusts.

“Airmen make the mission happen,” he said, adding that caring for them is a top priority. He said privatized housing, upgraded fitness centers, improved health care facilities and resources to build and renovate dormitories as some of the initiatives underway.

During a question and answer session, the secretary responded to questions on the new physical fitness standards, the future of dining facilities, deployment ops tempo, quality of life and virtual exercises.

After the All-Call, the secretary had lunch with base airmen and civilians and went from table to table to talk with them. After lunch, he opened up the floor to questions.

A noncommissioned officer thanked him for all the programs supporting family members of deployed airmen. The NCO, who recently returned from a deployment and had left her 4-year old son behind, said, “Those programs helped me stay focused on the mission while I was deployed.”