Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett speaks during her ceremonial swearing in as the 25th secretary of the Air Force at the US Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo., Nov. 2, 2019. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark.
Newly arrived Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett reaffirmed her commitment to the service, its core values, and its airmen Nov. 2 at a ceremonial swearing in at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“The airmen who wear our nation’s uniform are our greatest asset and treasure, and we have no greater charge than to develop and care for them and their families,” Barrett said.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said Barrett “may be the kindest and most thoughtful person I’ve ever met,” noting that she walked alone to Arlington National Cemetery after her official oath of office ceremony on Oct. 18. She spent time in Section 60, where many of the troops killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Syria are buried, to “allow the gravity of her role” to sink in, Goldfein said.
However, he said, she is also “a leader who will demand performance.”
In future conflicts, “we will be called first,” Barrett said.
“Air Force C-17s may carry special forces to the far reaches of the globe, with KC-10s refueling them along the way,” she said. “When these troops reach their destination, combat controllers will be embedded with them, providing technical expertise and directing the B-52s and F-35s overhead, protecting American forces on the ground. At the same time, Air Force [unmanned aerial vehicles] will be in the air, providing vital, real-time intelligence, and all of this will be enabled by space assets.”
Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist swore in Barrett inside the academy’s Polaris Hall. Barrett called the building “a monument to character and leadership,” noting that the building’s oculus points directly at the North Star, or true north.
“Pilots distinguish between magnetic north, which changes, and true north, which is constant, enduring, unchanging, solid,” she said. “The United States Air Force is enduringly guided by its core values, its Polaris.”
“As we share the light from the oculus in this room, I look to Polaris. I pledge to do my best, guided by the core values, as I do my part to organize, train, and equip our United States Air Force,” Barrett said.