Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning listens to Lt. Col. Matthew Renbarger, 58th Fighter Squadron commander, talk about the innovations incorporated in the new F-35 Lightning II flight suit at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., July 16. Fanning spent the day on the base learning about the diverse joint and Air Force missions that take place each day from range testing to explosive ordnance disposal training to F-35 operations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)
Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning walks with Navy Capt. William Noel, the commanding officer of Naval School of Explosive Ordnance Disposal, toward the EOD Memorial at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., July 16. The memorial wall contains 298 names of EOD servicemembers who’ve been killed in the line of duty. Eleven new names were added in 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)
Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning (middle) and Cmdr. David Dorn, the Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 101 executive officer, talk about the F-35 Lightning II at the Marine hangar on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., July 16. Fanning spent the day on the base learning about the diverse joint and Air Force missions that take place each day from range testing to explosive ordnance disposal training to F-35 operations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)
Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning, discusses the capabilities of a bomb suit with an Air Force instructor from the Improvised Explosive Device Division while on a tour of Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal July 16. NAVSCOLEOD, located on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. provides high-risk, specialized, basic and advanced EOD training to U.S., partner nation military and selected U.S. government personnel each year. (U.S. Navy Photo/Lt. j.g. Elizabeth Allen)
7/17/2013 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning visited with Airmen, Sailors and Marines here July 16 as part of his first round of base visits since taking on the role of acting secretary last month.
The U.S. Senate confirmed Fanning as the 24th Under Secretary of the Air Force in April. He became acting secretary following the departure of Secretary Michael B. Donley June 21.
"It's important to me to get out from behind a desk, to get away from headquarters for a while and see what's going on at the wing, squadron and Airman-level," Fanning said.
Fanning toured the expansive Eglin ranges via helicopter before visiting the Naval School of Explosive Ordnance Disposal to see the EOD memorial wall and a demonstration. Then, Fanning was updated on the progress of F-35 Lightning II maintenance and pilot training at the academic training center, and toured the Air Force, Navy and Marine hangars.
The base held an All-Call afterward, giving Fanning an opportunity to speak directly with Eglin Airmen about current Air Force priorities and to field questions. The topic most discussed was the budget.
"My immediate priority for the Air Force will be trying to figure out the budget situation," Fanning said.
Now that Fanning has assumed the full responsibilities of the SecAF position, he oversees the service's $110 billion annual budget.
"We're still trying to pitch to Capitol Hill a nonsequester budget and create a new stability," he said.
Fanning stated civilian furloughs are the worst way to manage the force, and one of his priorities is to work to make sure they don't happen again.
"It ultimately came down to readiness," said Fanning about the decision. "We struggled to find a balance between personnel and flying hours. We were below acceptable numbers to maintain readiness and that's what drove the decision."
Fanning said an upcoming goal for the military in the next few years will be to build and maintain a ready force.
"These short-term investments erode our long-term readiness," said Fanning.
Fanning also spoke about another current Air Force topic, sexual assault prevention.
"We must promote and encourage our Wingman culture," he said. "It's about protecting each other and ensuring the Air Force is a true family place to work. Everyone at every level can contribute to this effort so our military families can feel safe."
He applauded the efforts of Airmen who submitted comments and suggestions to the "Every Dollar Counts" campaign and said many beneficial ideas were brought to light due to the program.
The Q and A portion of the All-Call focused primarily on the budget and how funding levels would affect items like the F-35, PCS movements, promotions and in-residence professional military education.
After the All-Call, Team Eglin showed off its innovation and testing side. Fanning learned about the latest weapons developments from the Armament Directorate and Air Force Research Laboratory and toured the 53rd Wing's F-35 reprograming facility to wrap up his day.
"The mission of the Air Force is extremely diverse as evidenced by what I've seen here today," said Fanning. "The Air Force is everywhere and accomplishes the most amazing things every single day."