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Air Force Secretary Meets Airmen, Learns Readiness Practices Amid COVID-19

June 12, 2020 | BY Air Force Senior Airman Lane Plummer , 27th Special Operations Wing

Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett visited several units on Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, to see their readiness capabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic firsthand.

The secretary's May 20 visit included stops at the 27th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron and the 20th Special Operations Squadron, among other units.

Air Force Secretary and a maintenance airman take a close look at aircraft parts. Both are wearing face masks.
Osprey Check
Air Force Tech Sgt. Ryan Spencer, the CV-22 Osprey phase section chief with the 727th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, shows Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett parts of a CV-22 during her tour at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., May 20, 2020. Barrett learned about the day-to-day work of 727th SOAMXS airmen and how they maintain readiness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Lane Plummer
VIRIN: 200520-F-CT367-0283C

"It was reassuring to hear [Barrett's] insight and reflection on the wing and Air Force's response to COVID-19," said Air Force Lt. Col. Mark Hamilton, the commander of the 20th SOS. "We also noted her interest in taking away some of the best practices learned from the pandemic to become a more efficient and lethal vertical-lift squadron."

Hamilton and Barrett discussed the unit's role in the wing's mission, briefly showcasing the history of the unit and its accomplishments and how its airmen have continued staying current in meeting evolving demands with modern solutions.

"We are the sole vertical-lift platform at Cannon, and we strive to execute that professional specialized work for our nation," Hamilton added.

Civilian woman speaks with airmen in a hangar while other airmen work on an aircraft in the background.
Cannon Crew
Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett talks with airmen from the 727th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., May 20, 2020. Barrett was shown CV-22 Osprey day-to-day maintenance work and recognized some of the unit's best performing airmen while learning about how the unit keeps ready during COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Lane Plummer
VIRIN: 200520-F-CT367-0250C

In light of the current times, Barrett not only wanted to see the day-to-day work of some of the base's units, but also wanted to hear about their methods of balancing airman safety with meeting mission requirements.

"We were presented with a unique problem set and rapidly adapted our lives in order to maintain readiness, minimize exposure and ultimately protect our collective family," Hamilton said.

Like many units, the 20th SOS has created a new shift system that essentially "splits" the squadron to minimize possible exposure. "While the workload has not reduced, we have become more effective at leveraging technology to work from home," Hamilton said.

Civilian woman speaks with airmen in a hangar while other airmen work on an aircraft in the background.
Cannon Tour
Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett talks with airmen for the 727th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., May 20, 2020. Barrett was shown CV-22 Osprey day-to-day maintenance work and recognized some of the unit's best performing airmen while learning about how the unit keeps ready during COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Lane Plummer
VIRIN: 200520-F-CT367-0209C

Air Force Lt. Col. Shaun Parker, the 27th SOLRS commander, explained his squadron's side of the mission to the secretary and highlighted some airmen for their individual effort in keeping operations requirements met.

"I very much appreciated how she recognized the hard work of our members that have led the wing's pre-quarantine efforts to ensure we could deploy and relieve our deployed members that have been extended," Parker said. "I took away that she was interested in how we were maintaining readiness in the face of COVID-19."

A civilian woman exchanges an elbow bump with one of several airmen she is meeting. All are wearing face masks.
Cannon Greeting
Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett greets airmen from the 27th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron with elbow bumps at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., May 20, 2020. Barrett congratulated airmen who were highlighted by their unit leaders and learned about their day-to-day work amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Lane Plummer
VIRIN: 200520-F-CT367-0424C

These two units were examples of how all squadrons at Cannon chose to adapt and press on with executing global operations at a high standard, base officials said.