Mary Lou and I attended a retirement celebration last night for a man I worked with, and for, and whom I consider to be a friend. He is finishing up 29 years of military service and retiring as a Colonel, just as his father did about 29 years ago. The party was filled with laughter and quiet reflection among the various guests, many of whom I also consider friends. I wish Jordie and Susan a long and successful post-career, career.
In chatting with a former AFSOC Commander we had an opportunity to reflect on the state of affairs both in his time, and now. It reinforced one thing that keeps me coming to work – I love being a part of a dynamic and living organization at the forefront of quietly implementing the national security policy. While there are frustrations, the sense of personal accomplishment at the end of the day, the week, or the month is something that lifts my spirit, because I see the future of the Command unfolding before me.
As another Commander pointed out in one of his last meetings, AFSOC is the only AF Major Command actively engaged and operating continuing missions on a global basis. We have young men and women flying missions, maintaining aircraft, or operating as battlefield airman around the world from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and all points in between. This is both something to take pride in, but also reflect on. For Special Operation Forces are, as a matter of history, a force borne by war. We have grown not because we wanted to, but because we’ve had to.
|The Sphere, from World Trade Center, NYC|
Despite the assurance of our leaders, we live in an increasingly violent world where non-state actors have access to the sophisticated technology developed by the military powers to fight wars on a global scale. They have the most advanced surface to air missiles, rockets, and bombs, and unfortunately, they are not constrained by the historical respect for law and treaty, or even a respect for human life. So the question then becomes how do we protect our nation?
I leave you with these words; perhaps misattributed to George Orwell. “We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”