"...do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

"For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism..."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Maxwell AFB, April 21, 2008

"You will need to challenge conventional wisdom and call things like you see them to subordinates and superiors alike."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, United States Air Force Academy, March 4, 2011

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Raise a Glass to Our United States Air Force!

I spend a great deal of time focusing on the failures of our service and those who populate its ranks.  I firmly believe that concentrating on successes and strengths, is an exercise meant to make a person feel good about his institution and is less useful when it comes to making that institution better.  The reality is that we have a great many serious challenges in this day and age, and we do have many who are in the business of defending our nation for the absolute wrong reasons.

But the Air Force does get it right, and there are great Americans in our ranks who do it right for the nation.  While we may be tempted to dismiss our service as populated with the self-serving, the reality is that there are great people who wear the uniform.  From all communities, and in senior leadership.

I could mention the anonymous person or persons, who did the the right thing by me, who no doubt felt some pressure and yet who had the courage to do their job professionally and objectively.  My ass was on the line after I took a serious stand, and I thought I was going to be hosed in a very real way.  But I was incorrect.  I wasn't the only person in the Air Force doing the right thing, and I will forever give thanks to the anonymous person who had the fortitude to do the right thing in my case.

Air Force members also did the right thing during two different processes involving a buddy of mine.  The first process was engaged to take his wings.  Those in the Air Force who made up the panel found for him.  The second and later process was to kick him out of the Air Force despite the first process.  Again, those in the Air Force did the right thing and recognized the innocence of this great fighter pilot who not only served his country for nearly two decades in combat (being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross), but who also embodied the concept of "bromanship" - bending over backwards to help those coming up, of giving back, and who spent long hours at work to make his organization better.

What needs to be said more this Memorial Day, is that the Air Force does work.  It's no absolute, and there are plenty of counter examples.  But if airmen have the courage to do the right thing, the Air Force is populated by other good people who will do the right thing in many cases.  And for that, our service should be commended.

So despite the bad press, the many challenges, and the many failures, I will spend this Memorial Day in Air Force Blue celebrating the greatest and most lethal military organization to ever exist.  I will raise a glass to John Boyd, Robin Olds, Hap Arnold, Billy Mitchell, General Fogleman and others who risked themselves to make our service better.  But above all, I will raise a glass to the United States Air Force.

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