PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) --
For the first time since assuming his position in July 2021, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall visited the Defense Department’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center at Patrick Space Force Base Jan. 18 to learn more about how the organization performs its global mission.
Kendall, accompanied by Kristyn Jones, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller, spent time with Airmen and Guardians of the Air Force Technical Applications Center to learn how they detect technical data from foreign nuclear explosions and report it to national decision makers.
AFTAC is the Air Force’s largest sensor network, responsible for operating and maintaining a global network of nuclear event detection equipment as part of the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System. Kendall and Jones received briefings from AFTAC’s seismic, materials, directed energy and weapons of mass destruction subject matter experts to illustrate the depth, scope and breadth of the center’s verification technologies.
“One of the best parts of my job is getting out to visit our Airmen, and today was no exception,” Kendall said. “AFTAC is a unique organization filled with skilled technical experts, and I am inspired to see the level of commitment they have. But we need to make sure you’re able to sustain your capabilities and that you have the support needed to succeed.”
He continued, “I had a lot of fun and met a lot of great people. My message to AFTAC is a simple one: keep up the great work.”
In addition to receiving a variety of mission briefings, the secretary also presented his coin to select members of the workforce to commend them on a job well done.
“I am so honored to the greatest extent to be recognized by Secretary Kendall,” said Tech Sgt. Joseph Mendoza, a materials specialist in AFTAC’s 709th Technical Maintenance Squadron. “It’s incredible to know that my leadership has that much faith in me, but it’s also important because there are a lot of really talented people I work with who are equally deserving of this recognition. I can’t express how grateful I am, and I appreciate everyone who made it happen.”
Kendall, a retired Army officer with more than 50 years of experience in government, private industry and the military, is responsible for managing an annual budget of more than $200 billion and leads nearly 700,000 military and civilian employees across the Air and Space Forces.
“It is always an honor and a privilege for us to welcome distinguished visitors to the center, but it’s especially noteworthy when it’s someone of Secretary Kendall’s and Secretary Jones’ caliber and experience,” said Col. James A. Finlayson, AFTAC commander. “We very much appreciate them taking the time out of their very busy schedules to meet with us.”
“Over the years, AFTAC has been fortunate to have other Air Force secretaries come to Florida to learn more about how this organization fits into the larger national defense sight picture, and hosting Secretary Kendall and Assistant Secretary Jones is no exception,” Finlayson said. “I am confident they will walk away with the same sense of pride I have for the Airmen and Guardians who are the true experts when it comes to delivering unique nuclear and WMD expertise to outsmart our adversaries.”
Finlayson added, “I know I command the best organization in the Air Force, and the men and women of AFTAC are superstars for showcasing this diverse and critical mission to our honored guests. We hope they’ll return again soon.”