Acting SECAF kicks off annual AFA conference

Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

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Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning and Air Force Chief of Staff Mark A. Welsh III helped kick off the Air Force Association’s three-day Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition today. This is the largest air and space conference in the United States and includes more than 60 forums, panels and other keynote presentations. The Air Force Public Affairs Agency Social Media Division will provide readers daily blog posts during the conference to highlight Air Force senior leaders’ key discussions.

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Fanning started the morning by touting innovation as the fabric of the service’s past and future. The secretary also commented on other key topics ranging from F-35 Lightning II and KC-46 Tanker programs to cyber, sequestration, strategic guidance and the future of defense structure. He also praised Airmen for their flexibility and resiliency and is optimistic about the Air Force’s future because of the quality of people who make up the world’s greatest Air Force.

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Betty Welsh, Air Force Chief of Staff spouse, met with Air Force spouses and other family members during the AFA’s Spouse and Family Forum that focused on strengthening families by helping spouses overcome unique issues that come with military life. She also shared a couple personal stories about challenges the Welsh family faced during the chief of staff’s 36-year career.

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The Command Chief Master Sergeants Forum addressed several audience topics including sequestration, sexual assault and leadership. While Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Cody was unable to attend, the chiefs in attendance spoke candidly and gave advice. Selfless leadership was a common theme among the panelists citing the purpose of developmental assignments as developing future Air Force leaders, not primarily helping Airmen improve personally. Selfless leadership also means getting to know your Airmen and their lives so that their potential can be maximized.

Some good advice for all Airmen was also offered. “You have to be open to all the opportunities,” Air Force Special Operations Command Command Chief William Turner said. “You’re getting experience. If your heart is in the right place and purposeful, good things will come.”

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Chief of the Air Force Reserve Lt. Gen. James Jackson took the opportunity to update conference attendees on his plan for maintaining a combat-ready force during fiscal challenges being felt by every service in the Department of Defense. Jackson went into great detail about the Reserve’s operational capabilities, strategic depth and surge capabilities. He also gave the audience an overview on the Reserve’s current force structure and how he believes total force integration will lead to better communication and daily operations with each Air Force component.

We’ll bring you more coverage from the Air Force Association Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition tomorrow.

PHOTO 1: Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Air Force Association Chairman of the Board George K. Muellner kick off the 2013 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 16, 2013, in Washington, D.C. The conference highlights excellence and outstanding achievement of the Air Force’s finest with the national aerospace awards program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Stout)

PHOTO 2: Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning gives his keynote address at the 2013 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 16, 2013, in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy photo)

PHOTO 3: Chief of the Air Force Reserve Lt. Gen. James Jackson discussed the state of the Reserves and Air Force Reserve Command at the 2013 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 16, 2013, in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy photo)

PHOTO 4: Command chief master sergeants from six major commands participated in a Command Chief Master Sergeants Forum at the 2013 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 16, 2013, in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy photo)

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Acting SECAF kicks off annual AFA conference