James is the 23rd Secretary of the Air Force and is responsible for the affairs of the Department of the Air Force, including the organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of its nearly 660,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian Airmen and their families. She also oversees the Air Force’s annual budget of more than $139 billion. Collectively, she has more than 30 years of senior homeland and national security experience in the federal government and the private sector.
During her visit, James received a tour of the wing’s Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operations Center and RPA mission brief; met with wing and tenant unit leadership to discuss worldwide mission support, deployment operations and key challenges facing today’s Air Force, Air Commandos and their families; sat one-on-one with the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator to understand the status and health of Cannon’s SAPR program; conducted an all-call with base personnel and members of the local community; and sat with a member of the Public Affairs team to film an episode of ‘Between Two Tumbleweeds’.
“I want to give all of you my deepest thanks and appreciation for the incredible work you do each and every day for your country,” James said. “The missions you conduct out of this wing are vitally important to our Air Force and this nation.”
“Cannon’s Air Commandos are fully equipped with the resources and training they need to own the fight forward,” she said. “From precision air strikes to personnel recover, these air and ground SOF team members are consistently perfecting skills needed to enable operations around the globe.”
Due to adverse weather, James was not able to complete her scheduled tandem jump with Special Tactics members of the 24th Special Operations Wing.
“We were proud to show Secretary James how AFSOC trains for mission success, and honored she trusts Airmen regardless of the risks,” said Col. James Johnson, 720th Special Tactics Group commander and special tactics officer. “Unfortunately we cannot control the weather, but she was able to experience how Special Tactics trains to constantly maintain their operational edge. It is easy to say you care about your Airmen, but she walked the walk and literally put her life in our hands to demonstrate how much she trusts her Airmen’s professionalism.”
However, James was provided with an aerial tour of Melrose Air Force Range, where she witnessed first-hand the expansive capabilities the 27th SOW boasts to augment training of its special operations forces.
“Melrose provides a very unique training environment for Air Commandos to gain the experience, both in the air and on the ground, they need to execute worldwide operations,” James said. “It is because of capabilities like Melrose, and the professionalism, competence and perseverance of these Air Commandos that Cannon and AFSOC are able to conduct their vitally important mission and enable SOF operations.”
“I am continuously amazed by the caliber of Airmen we have working around the globe – Cannon is no exception,” James said. “The Airmen here are remarkable and the efforts out of this wing are instrumental to national security. This truly is a premier installation and Cannon’s Air Commandos are absolutely the tip of the spear.”