At AFA, 2022 Was a Year to Be Proud Of
December 22, 2022
This was a year of great change and growth at our Association. To begin with, we’ve got a glowing new sign on our building showing off our stunning Star-Delta logo and “Air & Space Forces Association”—our new name!
Inside, you’ll find 27 new employees, some new programs, and new members of our Board of Directors, including a new Chairman. Thanks to the support of our outstanding volunteer chapter leaders, our growing list of industry partners, and now some 110,000 individual members, we have much to celebrate as the year comes to a close.
Rebranding our Association and Magazine reflects our inherent support and partnership with both our United States Air Force and the United States Space Force, which turned three years old this week. AFA’s historic and strategic choice to fully embrace two mutually dependent and indispensable arms of our national security was not taken lightly. Changing our brand after 76 years, however, was absolutely essential for the future of our organization and the collective interests of Airmen and Guardians.
Among our other accomplishments this year, AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., was our biggest in more than 40 years. We welcomed nearly 17,000 Airmen, Guardians, and industry professionals, hosted more speakers than ever before, and packed our biggest-ever exhibit hall.
That was just one of many ways AFA celebrated the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United States Air Force as an independent branch of the armed forces. Other ways we celebrated: Air & Space Forces Magazine published “Age of Air Power,” a commemorative issue, and a series of interviews with every living former Air Force Chief of Staff. And AFA’s Doolittle Leadership Center embarked on our first-ever “Legends of Air & Space” tour, in which an amazing group of 11 storied Air Force leaders visited eight military installations across the country, speaking with more than 3,500 Airmen and Guardians along the way. These dynamic intergenerational dialogues were eye-opening for everyone who participated.
After two years of virtual contests due to COVID-19 restrictions, AFA’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education programs roared back to live action. Both AFA’s CyberPatriot and StellarXplorers held in-person finals, concluding a season in which a record number of students engaged in challenging competitions.
AFA covered some $13 million in costs to enable Airmen and Guardians to participate directly in the professional development opportunities presented by our Air, Space & Cyber Conference. We also contributed over $230,000 in scholarship funds supporting Airmen, Guardians, their spouses, and their children, and we funded $20,000 in STEM educator grants to support teachers nationwide. AFA’s Wounded Airman Program backed more than 1,000 wounded warriors and their families at the 2022 DOD Warrior Games in Orlando, Fla. And we expanded our commitment to spouse and family programs, directly supporting CSAF and CSO spouses’ initiatives with family-focused session at the Air, Space & Cyber Conference and free attendance for spouses at the event. Look for a further expansion of spouse programs, both nationally and at the chapter level, in 2023!
AFA remains a respected voice in national defense affairs. The overwhelming bipartisan vote in favor of the $858 billion National Defense Authorization Act demonstrated Congress’ support for numerous programs critical to our national security, including the need to develop a comprehensive strategy for the Space Force, recapitalizing our fighter force, and fully funding crucial classified programs.
AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies shined even more brightly this year as the world’s leading aerospace power think tank. Their depth of effect expanded with a record number of high-impact forums and spotlighted policy papers, while the Aerospace Advantage podcast surged to No. 1 ranking in the nation in aerospace content. Mitchell Institute’s Space Power Advantage Center of Excellence made a thunderous impact with the Capitol’s first Spacepower Security Forum. The brand-new Mitchell Center for UAV and Autonomy Studies blazed through an unprecedented study of collaborative combat aircraft for long-range strike by merging into a vigorous workshop of top talent from the Air Force’s communities of warfighters, technologists, and America’s stellar industry talent.
After three stellar years as Chairman, CMSAF #14 Gerald Murray concluded his tenure in September, turning over the gavel to Brig. Gen. Bernie Skoch, USAF (Ret.), who brings a long track record of success and years of STEM and major event experience to his role. Your AFA is in good hands!
Our Association is also in its strongest financial position in a decade, thanks to an exceptionally talented and hard-working staff; our thoughtful, caring, and generous volunteer leaders; and ever stronger relations with the Air Force, Space Force, our industry partners, and our growing membership base.
We could not be more grateful for the thousands of volunteer hours, the unprecedented level of partnership between the field and the Association leadership, and the generosity of our growing list of supporters and benefactors. Together, we are making the case for greater investment and support for our Airmen, Guardians, and their families to deter potential adversaries from ever even thinking of challenging American might.
At this time of year, when our thoughts go to family, friends, and warm hearths on the home front, let us all remember that around the world, from East to West and North to South, Airmen and Guardians are on alert, working hard—often far from home and family—to ensure our way of life endures and our nation remains secure. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers throughout this festive season. It remains the honor of a lifetime to be part of all that AFA stands for.
May God bless America, and all of you, throughout this holiday season and the New Year ahead!
Bruce “Orville” Wright
President & CEO