By Senior Airman Lauren Penney, 184th Public Affairs
After much anticipation, the Guard, Reserve and active-duty components of McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, welcomed Deborah Lee James, secretary of the Air Force, Washington, D.C., July 29.
James is responsible for the affairs of the Department of the Air Force, including organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of its more than 660,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian Airmen and their families.
During her visit, James held a meet and greet, had lunch with Airmen at the Roost Dining Facility, spoke at an all call and attended a speed mentoring session.
When James arrived at the 22nd Air Refueling Wing’s headquarters building, representatives from the 184th Intelligence Wing, 931st Air Refueling Wing and 22nd ARW each spoke about their unit’s specific missions, giving the secretary an idea of what each organization does and some of the struggles they face.
This discussion also addressed recruitment and retaining concerns due to the loss of enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses.
Later, James visited multiple units across McConnell Air Force Base, including the 184th’s Intelligence Complex and the construction projects for the KC-46 Pegasus.
“There’s growth opportunities here, and I think there’s a certain excitement associated with that,” James said.
At a press conference with local media stations, James recognized McConnell Air Force Base as a “key location” for the Air Force.
“Having seen the community leaders and having talked to the Airmen, it’s very clear to me that we are wanted and we are well appreciated here at McConnell, and that means a lot,” James said.
James emphasized the importance of the two key missions on base, and the worldwide impact of each Air Force component.
“It’s an important part of global reach. McConnell is the largest tanker base in the world,” James said. “The second way it helps is because McConnell is important for global vigilance. Part of the team here is focused on cyber issues, as well as intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and the analysis of the intelligence that comes from our systems. McConnell is hitting the ball out of the park over and over again.”