SECAF visits Eielson Airmen, flies with Aggressors

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Isaac Johnson
  • 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson visited with Airmen from 354th Fighter Wing Aug. 10 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.

Wilson spoke to Airmen, civilians and families during a town hall about the new National Defense Strategy and the importance of being prepared for the high-end fight.

“Being able to compete, deter and win in highly contested environments will be a change for all of us,” said Wilson. “For nearly the last 30 years we have been focused on fighting violent extremism in an environment where we controlled the high ground. So we have to reorient our preparation for the future fight.”

During the town hall she conveyed some of the steps that will be taken to prepare the Air Force for the battles of tomorrow.

“We currently have 301 pacing squadrons; these are fighters, bombers, space or cyber squadrons,” said Wilson. “Congress has directed us to submit a report to them next March detailing how many we need to execute the NDS. Over the coming months you will see the Air Force Chief of Staff and I talking about the force we need.”

While at Eielson, Wilson had the unique opportunity to fly with the 18th Aggressors Squadron and see the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex. The JPARC is one of the largest aerial training ranges in the Department of Defense.

“The airspace in Alaska is like no place else in the world where we can train our pilots, as well as our joint and international partners.” said Col. Benjamin Bishop, 354th Fighter Wing commander. “Showing Secretary Wilson the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex helps her to understand our mission here at Eielson and why interior Alaska is so strategic for our military.”

The secretary also met with civilian leaders from the Fairbanks North Star Borough to discuss how Eielson and their military community collaborate together.

“We greatly value our neighbors and depend on their support to accomplish our mission,” said Bishop.

Wilson also talked about the five major objectives for the Air Force: restoring readiness of the force, cost effectively modernize, drive innovation, develop exceptional leaders and strengthening our alliances.

“We are still the preeminent air power in the world and no one should have any doubt of the result of taking on the United States Air Force,” said Wilson. “We are every country's best friend and worst enemy.”