AF senior leaders kick off annual AFA conference

By Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever and Senior Airman Michelle Patten
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

Air Force senior leaders kicked off this year’s Air Force Association Air and Space Conference today in Washington D.C. They discussed several Air Force mission areas and hosted a Spouse and Family Forum focused on family resiliency.

Other Air Force commanders and directors held additional panel discussions on command and control, airpower in NATO, and updates about the Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, and U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa.

During the opening ceremony, Air Force Chief of Staff Mark A. Welsh III shared his initial thoughts on the conference, and its importance in bringing together total force Airmen and industry partners.

“This is a great opportunity for Air Force leadership to reconnect with commanders, Airmen, and former leaders and mentors,” Welsh said.

SECAF photo
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James gives the keynote address during Air Force Association’s Air and Space Conference in Washington, D.C., Sept. 15, 2014. The secretary discussed the need for bold leadership across the Air Force at all ranks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Scott M. Ash/Released)

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James outlined the state of the Air Force, and emphasized strategic agility as the service remains globally engaged and focused on its efforts to maintain
readiness across the full spectrum of military operations.

“Our Air Force supports military operations all over the world – all day, every day – whether it’s mobility humanitarian operations assistance or ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan,” James said. “The Air Force’s job is to provide combatant commanders with air, space and cyberspace options to handle any contingency they may face.”

Betty Welsh, spouse of Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, chief of staff of the Air Force, makes remarks during the Air Force Spouse Perspective panel as part of the 2014 Spouse and Family Forum at the Air Force Association Air And Space Symposium, Washington, D.C., Sept. 15. Welsh gave a glimpse into her family heritage of serving in the military and the remarkable Air Force spouses that she has met through her travels with her husband.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)
Betty Welsh, spouse of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh, makes remarks during the Air Force Spouse Perspective panel as part of the 2014 Spouse and Family Forum at the Air Force Association Air And Space Symposium in Washington, D.C., Sept. 15, 2014. Welsh gave a glimpse into her family heritage of serving in the military, and the remarkable Air Force spouses she has met through her travels with her husband.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)

James, Welsh and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody supported AFA’s Spouse and Family Forum that stressed the importance of family resiliency and suicide prevention. Their spouses also shared their experiences during the forum.

“Our journey in resiliency is ongoing,” said Betty Welsh, Air Force chief of staff spouse. “It was my Air Force family that got us through these (tough) times.”

Mrs. Welsh related her personal road to resiliency with Air Force spouses and other conference attendees.

“It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are not.” Welsh said.

The first day of the conference wrapped up with a look at the state of the Air Force Reserve by Lt. Gen. James Jackson, Air Force Reserve Command commander. Jackson stated that the Air Force Reserve has configured its mission areas to ensure they are  flexible, adaptable and responsive.

“Citizen Airmen are stationed locally and serving globally,” Jackson said. “We provide an operational capability for the nation every single day.”

Air National Guard director Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke provided conference attendees with a detailed look at the ANG’s strengths and total force integration efforts. Clarke also mentioned the contributions of ANG Airmen to the warfighter, and their support of homeland operations.

“The Air National Guard is a proven choice for the warfight,” Clarke said. “Even with a largely part-time force, the ANG is always on mission.”