Speaking at The American Legion's 92nd National Convention here, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley said that providing for airmen and their families will continue to be the service's "bottom line." He said it was "not only the right thing to do for our airmen, it is the smart thing to do for our Air Force."

Noting that 23,000 homes had been built or renovated for airmen and their families in fiscal 2010, Donley said the Air Force was increasing its community-based child care programs and plans to triple its number of liaison officers who work with Air Force children and local school systems.

Donley said that "nearly a decade of sustained combat operations" have imposed serious demands on Air Force families. He stressed the continuing need to support Air Force families and ensuring their health and wellness needs are properly met.

In his speech before thousands of Legionnaires at the Frontier Airlines Center, Donley touched on several other topics:

• Because it is America's largest consumer of jet fuel (about 600,000 gallons per day), the Air Force has begun to certify its jet engines for the use of synthetic fuels

• Cyberspace, "the only manmade domain," continues to grow ever-faster, and the Air Force is linking its weapons systems and war fighters to an unprecedented amount of information. "We must and we will actively defend these networks," Donley said.

• America's global reach is a national asset and the Air Force contributes to it with more than 100 satellites operating 24/7. In the past year, airmen have flown more than 35,000 ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) missions. Since 9/11, the Air Force has transported 1.8 million passengers.

Telling Legionnaires that the future of our nation's defense will depend in part on the strength of public service, Donley said "the job of remaining prepared for what the future holds will never end."

With a current membership of 2.5-million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.


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