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All In: Air Force personnel have made, and continue to make, a significant contribution to the US military’s joint efforts in the global war on terror, and it’s important to reiterate that in light of recent events, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley state in a joint letter to airmen issued April 24. USAF’s leadership said it issued the missive to remind airmen of the critical roles that they play in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in protecting the homeland, in general. This is in light of press reports that mischaracterized comments made by Defense Secretary Robert Gates April 21 as criticism of the air service’s level of support for the war effort. “It is important for all airmen to know Secretary Gates applauded airmen for their significant contributions to the Long War, just as he has praised America's soldiers, sailors, and marines. It is also important for airmen to know Air Force contributions are making a difference, and that airmen continue to do everything possible to support the Secretary of Defense's priorities,” Wynne and Moseley write. “We are proud of the hard work that you … undertake every day.” Examples include the fact that 24,000 airmen and 300 aircraft are currently deployed to the Middle East/Near East region supporting operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Each month, airmen flying intratheater transports keep more than 12,000 people and 5,000 vehicles out of harm's way, they state. Further, the Air Force today can field 23 simultaneous combat air patrols of MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles and will have 31 CAPs by April 2009, exceeding DOD’s requirements, they state. About 6,000 airmen are executing in-lieu-of tasks such as convoy operations to free up ground troops, they state.