Note from the President
You’ve all heard the saying “there is strength in numbers.” Well as we close out 2018, I am proud to say that YOUR Air Force Association is now 99,000 members strong and growing daily! So, what does that mean exactly? More members means a louder voice and more influence on Capitol Hill. More members means AFA can more effectively advocate for top issues on behalf of Airmen. More members means AFA can deliver top-quality, unparalleled professional development events for Total Force Airmen. Won’t you help us reach the 100,000 member mark today by gifting a membership?
2018 was a year of opportunities and challenges for our Air Force. Below is a quick recap:
Hot off the press, the new United States Space Force will reportedly be established as an armed force within the Department of the Air Force. The service will be overseen by the newly-created Undersecretary of the Air Force for the Space Force and a Space Force Chief of Staff, who will sit on the Joint Chiefs, according to a draft of the fiscal year 2020 budget. Additionally, the President officially approved the creation of US Space Command, which marks the Department of Defense’s 11th combatant command. The command’s priorities will be to integrate space planning and operations across the military, align operational forces to the commander responsible for joint space warfighting, develop tactics, establish space standards for all military forces, and use best commercial practices.
During AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference in September, Secretary Wilson announced The Force We Need which includes 386 operational squadrons. As Secretary Wilson stated, “the Air Force is too small for what the nation expects of us.” The increase from 312 to 386 is a growth of 24 percent and would include 40,000 new personnel to fill the desired number of new squadrons.
In September, contracts were awarded for the UH-1N helicopter replacement, the new T-X trainer jet that will replace the aging T-38 Talons, and the Global Positioning Satellite IIIF, which serves billions of people and includes enhanced cybersecurity. Additionally, the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) was awarded to replace the forty-year-old Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile system and the Air Force awarded the hypersonic cruise missile contract.
At the beginning of 2018, the Air Force was roughly 2,000 pilots short and has been hard at work all year on 66 initiatives to increase pilot production and retention. One of the near-term solutions that is showing promise is the Pilot Training Next program which offers a condensed T-6 syllabus and includes virtual reality systems to learn to fly the aircraft.
Sadly, Tyndall Air Force Base took a direct hit by Hurricane Michael in October. The storm caused catastrophic damage to 95 percent of the buildings at Tyndall, leaving the base in significant disrepair. The Air Force announced this month that it recommended Congress approve supplemental funding to rebuild the base to prepare it to receive the F-35 Lightning II squadrons. “We have been given a chance to use this current challenge as an opportunity to further improve our lethality and readiness in support of the National Defense Strategy,” said General David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
TSgt John Chapman, who was killed in action in March 2002 during the Battle of Takur Ghar in Afghanistan, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by the President in August. TSgt Chapman, posthumously promoted to MSgt, is the first member of the Air Force since the Vietnam War to receive the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest award for valor in combat.
As we look ahead to a new year, AFA’s members, volunteers, staff and leadership team will continue our unwavering efforts to support and promote the world’s greatest Air Force. Thank you for helping us carry out this vital mission and for being an Airman for Life!
With warmest wishes for a great and safe holiday season,
Larry O. Spencer
Wounded Airman Program
This year, our Wounded Airman Program provided more than $200,000 to our wounded heroes and their families who have sacrificed so much to make our nation and our Air Force great. When the Air Force hosted the 2018 Warrior Games, AFA was proud to host a hospitality tent for more than 1,200 wounded warriors and family members. All of this support would not have been possible without the help of many AFA chapters and volunteers who all came together as Airmen taking care of Airmen.
Recording-Breaking AFA Events
AFA hosts two premier professional development events for our Airmen and the aerospace community. Registration numbers for our 2018 Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition grew a remarkable 23 percent from the previous year. Industry participation in the exhibit hall also saw continued growth.
The 2018 Air, Space & Cyber Conference reached a record level of nearly 12,000 registrants, an impressive 32 percent increase over last year. The exhibit hall reached full capacity again this year. The conference featured special guests including Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin and founder & CEO of Amazon, and Gwynne Shotwell, president & COO of SpaceX. We were also thrilled to have Vice President Mike Pence drop by to wish the Air Force a happy birthday. The success of this conference is a testament to the strong relationship between AFA, our Air Force leadership, and our industry supporters
Supporting STEM Education
Aerospace education remains at the heart of AFA. This year, we supported more than 1,500 K-12 STEM classrooms, CAP, JROTC and ROTC with awards and grants to cultivate tomorrow’s leaders. In 2018, we expanded our education reach by adding scholarships to the University of Maryland University College; grants through a new joint-service partnership with Delta Dental, and a private pilot license scholarship through Vertol System’s Destin Flight Academy.
In 2018, StellarXplorers, AFA’s National High School Space Challenge, culminated its fourth season with the National Finals and began its fifth with another season of growth. The rookie team from Great Mills, MD exceeded expectations on its way to claiming the first place trophy for 2017-18, scoring higher than the judges thought possible! New this year was the introduction of StellarCamps, a means to introduce educators and students to the basics of satellite system design and encourage program participation. Team registration for StellarXplorers V closed in October, growing by 20 percent and increasing the number of states represented. Aerospace companies seeking a diverse, workforce development partner should look no further!
CyberPatriot Expands Programming
CyberPatriot, AFA’s National Youth Cyber Education Program, continued to grow and expand this year. 260 AFA CyberCamps were hosted nationwide over seven weeks during the summer. Registration for the eleventh season of CyberPatriot’s National Youth Cyber Defense Competition closed in October with 6,387 teams—a new record. AFA’s Elementary School Cyber Education Initiative (ESCEI) continued to have strong distribution and the Cyber Education Literature Series published an activity book to accompany Sarah the Cyber Hero. CyberPatriot also recently launched CyberGenerations – The Senior Citizens’ Cyber Safety Initiative aimed at educating senior citizens about the basics of cybersecurity
The Mitchell Institute wrapped up another successful year as the nation’s only think tank wholly focused on national security and aerospace issues. In 2018, Mitchell produced more than 18 major publications including four in-depth scholarly Mitchell Studieshighlighting ideas and solutions that enhance aerospace power’s role in securing America’s interests. The Mitchell Institute also hosted more than 70 events informing key players in the national security debate and educating them about aerospace power’s role in securing U.S. interests. Looking ahead, 2019 promises even more impressive results. Whether testifying on Capitol Hill, serving as a resource for reporters from outlets including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, releasing detailed reports, engaging with rising talent, or hosting educational forums, this arm of the Air Force Association is an integral asset furthering the AFA mission of education and advocacy. AFA’s Mitchell team is having a major impact on the aerospace defense discussion—not just in Washington DC but across the nation.
Air Force Magazine
We’re revamping Air Force Magazine under the leadership of a new editor-in-chief. In the coming year, Air Force Magazine will introduce new features and a wider variety of content in the magazine and begin the process of re-engineering our AirForceMag.com website and Daily Report email newsletter. Our intent is to better serve you with relevant, current, and forward-looking content and at the same time attract more new members to our award-winning reporting
Give the Gift of Membership
Do you know someone who just entered the Air Force and whose career could benefit from an affiliation with a professional development association? Or someone close to retiring who wants to stay connected to the organization they have faithfully served? Or perhaps you are an Air Force civilian employee who wants to learn more about getting involved in their local community supporting Wounded Airman? If so, consider giving the gift of AFA membership today! Your $20 gift membership not only benefits the recipient but it also enables AFA to execute our mission of promoting a dominant Air Force and supporting Airman for Life! A gifted membership will also grant access to Air Force Magazine and the Daily Report. Visit our website or call AFA today at 1-800-727-3337 to give the airpower enthusiast in your life the perfect gift this yea
Mark Your Calendar
12/1/2018 AFA scholarship applications are open—apply here
1/11/2019 AFA event at Joint Base Andrews with CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright—learn more
2/1/2019 AFA Breakfast Series event with Dr. Will Roper—learn more
2/27-3/1/2019 Air Warfare Symposium—learn more
About the Author: Air Force Association MiG Alley Chapter