Change ...

  • Published
  • By Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee

To fly, fight, and win... Airpower anytime, anywhere.

- United States Air Force Mission Statement

Heroes of the Air Force Reserve:

Change is inevitable. Change is uncertain. Change may be uncomfortable. However, it is often necessary because the risks of complacency are too great. In April, the Chief of Staff unveiled the Air Force's new mission statement. These eight words are a mandate to continue our journey as an institution because, as Airmen, we understand that good enough today will inevitably fail in tomorrow's security environment.

We face changes driven by our adversaries, our environment and our resource constraints. As we change, we carry with us a legacy passed from one generation of Reserve Citizen Airmen to the next.

The most significant structural change to the Department of Defense in generations, the establishment of the United States Space Force, is a response to the changing nature of the security environment. The assumption of space as an uncontested domain, with our assets benefitting from being on the ultimate high ground, is being challenged. In response, our nation set about to build an optimized service dedicated to ensuring the safety, stability and security of outer space activities.

As a department, we have gradually shifted our focus from the counterinsurgency missions that dominated the early part of this century toward great power competition. To that end, we have started retooling our training and readiness efforts to ensure we are able to operate in contested environments against near peer adversaries.

The skillsets necessary to fly, fight and win in these environments are different than those needed in counterinsurgency operations. As our focus shifts, we will continue supporting the counterinsurgency mission set by providing valuable strategic surge capacity.

The environment has hastened our operational tempo. 2020 saw the busiest Atlantic hurricane season on record. We witnessed three of the four largest wildfires in California's history and stood shoulder to shoulder with the Air National Guard and other partners at the state and local levels to fight them. We did all of this during the deadliest pandemic in a century.

To provide a framework for operational planning in this environment, our basic doctrine was rewritten and published in April. The revision incorporates the service's strategic approach to Accelerate Change or Lose. It focuses on an approach to airpower that is centered on Airmen, returning to the concept of mission command in which mission execution is guided by commander's intent. The rewrite codifies many of the best practices we have already incorporated as a command, enabling us to better harness Airmen's innovation.

When we are faced with change, it is reassuring to focus on what remains the same. When disaster strikes, Reserve Citizen Airmen volunteer to go into danger to take care of their fellow Americans. When our nation faces adversaries that have studied us for decades, we adapt with new capabilities and doctrine. When we face threats in a new domain, we organize, train and equip to win. Finally, when we took an oath to become an Airman, we joined a family and will always remain Airmen.

About three years ago, I was asked to be the keynote speaker at a squadron centennial. That evening, I had the privilege of speaking with squadron veterans from every generation of Airmen since World War II. This squadron had flown P-40s, P-51s, F-86s, F-101s, F-4s, A-10s, F-16s, MQ-1s and MQ-9s during the eras in which the audience had served.

An event organizer told me an incredible story about the process of locating each of the squadron alumni. One evening, after an entire weekend of cold calling numbers from phone rosters that hadn't been updated in decades, a volunteer made contact with the widow of one of the squadron's pilots from World War II. She explained to the volunteer how she was so glad to hear from the squadron, because her husband's former commander would send her a Christmas card every year until his passing. He had done this from 1945 up until 2013.

Taking an oath and becoming an Airman is something that has permanence. It means that for whatever time each of you chooses to serve with us, you inherit a legacy of patriotism, innovation, courage and camaraderie that spans generations. Airpower has never been about the platform, but about the people who boldly harness the winds of change to deliver it.

The Command Chief and I are proud to serve with each of you and look forward to the future that resilient leaders bring to every corner of the Air Force Reserve.         ■