SecAF gains special ops insight at Cannon

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The secretary of the Air Force visited Cannon's Air Commandos May 17 to better understand the operations of Air Force special operations forces and its warfighters.

During her visit, Deborah Lee James received a tour of the 27th Special Operations Wing's Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operations Center; met with wing and tenant unit leadership to discuss worldwide mission support, deployment operations and key challenges facing today's Air Force, Air Commandos and their families; and conducted an all-call with base personnel and members of the local community.

Due to adverse weather, James was not able to complete her scheduled tandem jump with Special Tactics members of the 24th Special Operations Wing.

"We were proud to show Secretary James how AFSOC (Air Force Special Operations Command) trains for mission success, and honored she trusts Airmen regardless of the risks," said Col. James Johnson, 720th Special Tactics Group commander and Special Tactics officer. "Unfortunately we cannot control the weather, but she was able to experience how Special Tactics trains to constantly maintain their operational edge."

James took an aerial tour of Melrose Air Force Range, where she witnessed the expansive facilities the 27th SOW uses to train special operations forces.

"Melrose provides a very unique training environment for Air Commandos to gain the experience, both in the air and on the ground, they need to execute worldwide operations," James said. "It is because of capabilities like Melrose, and the professionalism, competence and perseverance of these Air Commandos that Cannon and AFSOC are able to conduct their vitally important mission and enable SOF operations."

During an address at the all-call, the secretary expressed deep thanks and appreciation for AFSOC Airmen and the mission they perform.

"I am continuously amazed by the caliber of Airmen we have working around the globe -- Cannon is no exception," James said. "The Airmen here are remarkable and the efforts out of this wing are instrumental to national security. This truly is a premier installation and Cannon's Air Commandos are absolutely the tip of the spear."

James is the 23rd secretary of the Air Force and is responsible for the affairs of the service, including the organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of its nearly 660,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian Airmen and their families. She also oversees the Air Force's annual budget of more than $139 billion. Collectively, she has more than 30 years of senior homeland and national security experience in the federal government and the private sector.