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SECAF helps NGA celebrate Air Force birthday

Springfield, Va. - The relationship between the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Air Force was lauded Sept. 16 during NGA's celebration of the service's 64th birthday at the agency headquarters in Springfield, Va.

Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley joined NGA Director Letitia A. Long in a ceremony that highlighted the partnership between the service and the intelligence agency.

"Over the years, the partnership has seen much advancement from balloons to airplanes, space assets, satellites, global positioning systems, weapons systems, sensors and unmanned aerial systems," Long said. "The U.S. Air Force provides to NGA the platforms necessary for gathering GEOINT, and NGA provides the analysis warfighters need to accomplish their missions."

Long emphasized the "distinguished partnership" between the Air Force and NGA, which has 149 active duty Airmen and "countless retired Airmen all the way up to the deputy director, retired Col. Lloyd Rowland," Long said.

In return, Donley cited the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to draw attention to the strong relationship with NGA as they jointly deliver vital geospatial-intelligence (GEOINT) to assist the commanders on the ground.

"We are grateful for this partnership and the benefits it brings to our capability," Donley said.

Looking to the future, Donley described the ongoing challenges facing the country.

"It is difficult to know what the next decade will bring, and it's clear that getting our nation's fiscal house in order will present additional challenges that promise changes not only for the Department of Defense, but for the intelligence community and every part of the federal government," he said. Nevertheless, he underscored that NGA's contribution to the national security arena "will be increasingly valuable."

During the ceremony, Long also remembered the Airmen killed, missing and wounded in action. She recognized Col. Craig Souza, who now serves as an NGA meteorological and oceanographic officer. In 2004, Souza sustained neck and back injuries during an attack in Baghdad while supporting the former Multi-National Force and Multi-National Corps, Iraq.

"It is indeed fitting that all of us at NGA salute and reaffirm our gratitude to these American heroes," she said.

After the birthday ceremony, Donley received a tour of the agency's new headquarters and received briefings on projects of Air Force interest, including precision engagement and safety of navigation.