Orlando, Fla.—Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has some simple marching orders from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the Senate, she told attendees at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium here Friday. Hagel told James he wants her to “make those tough choices” about strategy, people, and hardware that are necessary to keep the Air Force capable during the fiscal downturn. She’s also to make sure “the strategy fits” with the resources available and the world situation. “Sexual assault is on his mind,” too, said James, who said the same goes for “every single Senator” she met with during her confirmation process. She thinks the issue will be resolved through “persistent focus, persistent leadership, and persistent action.” Finally, she’s to try to heal the problems that have arisen within the Total Force in recent years and “make sure we get it right.” However, she reported that Hagel and Senators alike told her of their “enormous pride…and confidence” in USAF and that it is viewed as the “go-to force” by the nation’s leadership when dealing with time-critical emergencies. Her personal motto during her tenure, James said is “airpower: living the legacy and pay it forward.”
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.