The Air Force this month hired a retired fighter pilot to lead its charge to increase the service’s diversity footprint. He is Chris G. Patterakis, a California native who enlisted in the Air Force in 1953, transferred to the Air National Guard and completed pilot training in 1961. He flew F-86, F-100, and F-4 fighters, amassing 5,100 flying hours and 315 combat missions in the Vietnam War. Patterakis had a varied aerospace career after retiring from the Air Force, returning to the service in 2002 as special assistant for community relations to the Secretary of the Air Force. SECAF promoted him to his present position to head a new office created last year to encourage individuals from a broader range—be it race, gender, or economics—to join the service as officers or enlisted members.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.