Once Upon a Time

Four former Air Force Secretaries convened at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Tuesday to discuss lessons learned from their time in service and to offer advice to current Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. It takes communication and teamwork to get things done, they said, but what the Air Force needs to do most is tell their story, they emphasized. “If we don’t tell the American people what we do so that they can pressure Congress, we’ll get nowhere,” said James Roche, who served both in Congress in the 1980s and as Air Force Secretary from 2001 to 2005. A part of the problem, said Whit Peters, Air Force Secretary from 1999 to 2001, “is that the Air Force makes everything look too easy.” People don’t realize the complexity of the Air Force and all of its many moving parts, he said, and the service has failed to “explain that very well,” he said.