BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - In the midst of massive military spending cuts, officials at Keesler Air Force Base enjoyed the opportunity to show the top brass how they make the most of every dollar. Last week, the Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, spent time touring the base.
Keesler officials said some airmen go their entire career and never meet a Secretary of the Air Force. They said it was an honor for James to want to spend time learning about the men and women of the 403rd Wing.
"One of the unique missions we have is the Hurricane Hunter mission. She was very impressed with that and interested in that mission," said Col. Frank Amodeo. "That is a D.O.D. mission that the only place it's done is right here at Keesler, and the reserve airmen do that mission. We got to show her the additional capability on the back of the airplane to do air medical evacuation so she got to see a little piece of that."
Keesler is among 29 bases James is touring. Keesler officials said she has stated her priorities are taking care of airmen and their families, readiness and making every dollar count.
"We're going to have, in the Air Force, $20 billion less money this year that we thought we were going to have last year this time. So one thing that Secretary James is trying to do is find a way we can maintain our readiness," said Amodeo. "So we got to show her the things we do at Keesler to make every dollar count and make sure we're ensuring readiness. She was excited about seeing those things here."
To address airmen's concerns about how budget cuts will affect them, James agreed to a question and answer session.
"One of the questions had to do with commissary," said Amodeo. "Are we going to lose commissary privileges? The short answer is it sounds like we're not going to lose them, but what's going to happen is we're going to have to look at in the commissary business how we can manage our resources a little bit differently to save some money in the out years."
James also attended briefings and toured the 2nd Air Force and 81st Training Wing.