By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Feb. 02, 2007) -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne spoke in front of a packed house January 31 during his town hall meeting at the Pentagon.
During the meeting, the secretary discussed some of the issues facing the Air Force today as well as its strengths and his goals for 2007. One issue included the ages of the Air Force's aircraft.
"When I reentered (the Air Force) last year, the average age of our equipment was 24 years old," he said. "That's all of our fleet. Many of them are essentially bumping up against age limits."
The secretary said aircraft like the F-15 Eagle are now on flight restriction, prohibited during training from going above certain speeds because of potential danger to the pilot. He also said that type of restriction, due to the age of the aircraft, is detrimental to Air Force readiness.
"When you restrict that in peacetime, you restrict training," he said. "That would be like training to be an Indy 500 racecar driver at 100 miles an hour, knowing full well you will be going 175 miles an hour when you get on the track. It is just not the same."
Despite such restrictions, the secretary told gathered Airmen their Air Force was the best in the world.
"Why is your Air Force so great then? Because you -- the maintainers and sustainers of our Air Force -- are performing magnificently," he said. "The performers, the sustainers, and maintainers, are taking the old equipment and making it relevant today."
The secretary said he realized that Airmen could not continue to sustain today's ageing equipment indefinitely. He said the service is making efforts to recapitalize to ensure tomorrow's Airmen are equipped to fight any enemy, anywhere, anytime.
"We are about making sure that within our constrained resource set, we are going to set our sights on bringing (forward) this new and high technology equipment, because that is what your Air Force does," he said. "We bring high technology equipment and we change the face of warfare."
Also during the town hall meeting, the secretary discussed his "goal card" for 2007. Many of the goals are a continuation of those he expressed early on in his tenure: fostering mutual respect and integrity; sustaining air, space and cyberspace capabilities; open, transparent business practices; and fostering AFSO21 across the Air Force. But this year, he has added a new goal: "Every Airman an ambassador to all we meet and serve."
"It turns out, even in our community in the United States, people look at us as ambassadors of our Air Force," the secretary said.
Some Airmen may mistake those in high visibility positions, like Thunderbird pilots or wing commanders, as being the only representatives of the service. But actually, all Airmen are ambassadors of the Air Force the secretary said.
"The ambassadors for our Air Force are us, every one of us," he said. "Without a doubt when we are at Osan on a bike trip, at Kunsan taking a tour, or at Misawa and a local is taking us diving, they interact with us and come away with a feeling about the Air Force. They can come away with good feelings or come away with bad feelings. At the end of the day, it is up to you. That is where I say: Every Airman is an ambassador."