For 70 years the United States Air Force has bravely fought to protect freedom, liberty and peace on every continent around the globe. From active participation in major international conflicts to providing humanitarian support throughout the world, the United States Air Force has continued to be the nation’s leading edge across every domain and throughout every location by meeting the challenges of an ever-changing world with limitless strength, resolve and patriotism.

As co-chair of the Senate Air Force Caucus and the son of a retired Air Force Master Sergeant, I have been personally touched by the storied history of this distinguished service. That’s why I was proud to recognize the 70th anniversary of the Air Force and support the needs of our Airmen.

Today, more than one hundred thousand Airmen are standing watch at 175 global locations -including members of the 189th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base and the 188th Wing in Fort Smith- committed to continuously defending the people and interests of the greatest nation in the world.

National security must be our top priority. To ensure our Air Force personnel have the critical resources needed to accomplish their missions, Congress and the Air Force must maintain an open dialogue so that we are always ready to take on today’s threats and tomorrow’s challenges.

The Senate recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act to provide our Airmen, and all of our troops, with the tools they need to stay one step ahead of evolving dangers. I was proud to support this bill because it prioritizes readiness and modernization, something Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and other Air Force leaders have been urging Congress to restore.

During President Obama’s tenure, our military shrunk to the smallest it has been in decades and is now operating with outdated weapons and equipment as in the case of the Air Force’s use of 55-year-old B-52 bombers.

It comes as no surprise that since these bombers were first used, the mission of the Air Force has evolved and its responsibilities have expanded beyond airpower to include space and cyberspace missions.

The Air Force has made tremendous strides in the technological innovation and operationalization of air, space and cyberspace warfighting capabilities, and we need to continue investing in and encouraging the development of advanced airpower capabilities.

We owe our Airmen a tremendous amount of gratitude for the sacrifices they have made in defending the greatest country on earth as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the United States Air Force.

As the leader in air, space and cyberspace, the Air Force continues to modernize and innovate to meet the growing challenges in defending our nation and its allies. Our Airmen deliver the best airpower the world has ever known, bravely protecting freedom and liberty in all corners of the globe. I’m proud to honor our Air Force and the men and women who make it truly exceptional.