• Published
  • By Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee

I have concluded that we were put on this earth for a purpose. That purpose is to make it, within our capabilities, a better place in which to live.

– General James "Jimmy" Doolittle

Heroes of the Air Force Reserve:

Like many of you, I watched events unfold in Afghanistan with a flood of emotions. I thought back to Iraq, when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device hit our gate on my third day in country. I thought about the scale of human tragedy for the Afghan people.

My heart broke for each of the families of our fellow service members who were wounded or did not return. What made the pain all the more acute was the purpose of their mission. They stood with our most vulnerable allies in the face of those who were willing to kill indiscriminately. I cannot think of a more clear contrast between our values and the ideologies of our adversaries.

My single greatest comfort during these events was watching Reserve Citizen Airmen across the world volunteer to go into harm’s way to protect innocent people. You showed the world we are a ready and accessible force, able to deliver combat power anywhere on the planet with minimal notice in the most hostile conditions.

During the first 24 hours of Operation Allies Refuge, we generated 13 ready aircrews to assist with the evacuation. Within 72 hours, the number grew to 80 crews and 36 aircraft. In August alone, Reserve Citizen Airmen supported a total of 37 evacuation missions out of Kabul.

Our medical personnel once again demonstrated exceptional skill, some delivering babies for their first time while in flight and overcoming language barriers. Our maintenance, aerial port and logistics personnel worked countless hours to ensure surge operations ran safely and smoothly. Because of your professionalism in this heroic effort, thousands of vulnerable people were safely evacuated.

I recognize each of us will process these events differently depending on our experiences. As we collectively sort through complex emotions, I ask you to reach out to one another. Additionally, our first sergeants, chaplains and mental health providers are trained and ready to help you find the resources you need to navigate these issues.

More than three quarters of you entered military service after 9/11, volunteering to serve during a series of conflicts around the world. You brought with you the same sense of purpose that has motivated generations of Reserve Citizen Airmen to serve. You reassured our allies and partners by providing overwatch and mobility. Because of your efforts, countless people downrange were able to return home to their families. You also brought combat power to bear on our enemies, denying safe havens for our adversaries and disrupting the networks of those who wanted to harm Americans.

Over the last two decades, you have maintained exceptional readiness levels, always prepared to respond to any contingency even during ongoing combat operations. As we prepare for great power competition, readiness remains our top priority. Currently, COVID-19 is the single greatest threat to our continued readiness.

Like a human adversary, the virus has adapted, with new mutations increasing its transmissibility and lethality. We have the ability to disrupt it in our families and our communities. As we continue to combat the pandemic, I urge you to stay informed on both individual medical readiness requirements and comply with additional preventive measures. Our command’s Vaccine Operational Planning Team is dedicated to ensuring your command teams are equipped with both the vaccination supplies and information to protect our Airmen.

Thank you for everything you have given in service to our great nation. The Command Chief and I are proud to serve with each of you.