Legacy, Foundation, Destiny

  • Published
  • By Col. Shane Riza
  • Commander, 354th Operations Group
Almost five months ago when I took command of the 354th Operations Group, I said to the Airmen gathered for the event that our Air Force was going to change in the coming months and years. In a speech I expected no one to remember, I mentioned our coming fiscal constraints and challenged us to view these as something other than a threat.

As many of you already know, change has arrived, and our Iceman team is going to look different in as little as a few weeks. The restructuring of our civilian workforce will come first, but there are military positions being altered too.

At times like these it is easy to get down about the future. It is far easier to see change as impending doom than it is to buckle down and try to discern a viable way ahead. I would urge the more challenging road. I would urge you, as I did five months ago, to recognize this coming change as an opportunity. In order to do so, to set the stage for change, perhaps a good place to start is a return to our foundation.

This month the Air Force released Air Force Doctrine Document 1, Air Force Basic Doctrine, Organization, and Command. It is our senior capstone document for Air Force Doctrine, and "discusses the fundamental beliefs that underpin the application of Air Force capabilities across the range of military operations." Doctrine provides our foundation and ought to tell us exactly what we do for the nation.

This document does just that, and I will get to it in a moment. I urge you to read it in full, but there are three things every Airman should know... and should not be bashful about stating to those in or outside our service who lack a sense of what our service continues to provide our national leaders.

The first is new to this edition of AFDD 1. The second is as old as the first time an airplane flew over the desolate and stagnated battlefields of World War I and at once became a weapon of war and brought on a new age in warfare. The third is the discreet set of functions the Air Force alone provides to our nation.

The first thing you should know when talking about Airpower is that it is now redefined to encompass air, space and cyberspace power. While we recognize all three as domains where Airmen operate, our senior leaders are simplifying our discussions of our "ability to project military power or influence through the control and exploitation" of those domains "to achieve strategic, operational, or tactical objectives" -- the new definition of Airpower.

We will no longer talk of air, space and cyberspace power separately. Just as naval power includes all surface, subsurface and airborne enablers of our Navy's ability to project military power, the term "Airpower" alone is sufficient to explain all of the capabilities our Air Force provides as military options to our "national leadership and joint commanders."

The second thing every Airman must know is "that air, space, and cyberspace superiority are the essential first ingredients in any successful modern military operation." You must understand the very reason we are currently able to fight the kinds of wars we have been involved in over the last 20 years is due solely to what I would call domain superiority, and at times, domain dominance.

Our ground-based joint partners could not walk the ground they walk, our remotely-piloted aircraft could not glide through the airspace in which they fly, our Navy Riverines could not ply the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates were it not for your Air Force's unmatched ability to provide three-dimensional domain dominance around the globe.

The last U.S. casualty from enemy air attack occurred in April of 1953. That is a 58 year legacy of excellence. I have a Navy friend who is fond of saying 70 percent of the earth's surface is covered with water. My response is always, 100 percent of its surface is covered by air and space ... and oh by the way, we own it.

Finally, every Airman should know the Air Force Core Functions. They are:

· Nuclear Deterrence Operations
· Air Superiority
· Space Superiority
· Cyberspace Superiority
· Command and Control
· Global Integrated Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance
· Global Precision Attack
· Special Operations
· Rapid Global Mobility
· Personnel Recovery
· Agile Combat Support
· Building Partnerships

The list is interesting, but it becomes even more so when you realize and can explain to those who ought to know -- friends, family, other service personnel, the kind people who so often thank you for your service -- that right here at Eielson Air Force Base we train or accomplish all of the 12 functions our Air Force provides for the nation. That's right, every single one of them.

During Red Flags and other major flying exercises we train to domain superiority, global ISR, precision attack, special ops, global mobility, and personnel recovery. We are all a part of agile combat support in our 354th Fighter Wing Prepare, Deploy, Enable mission.

Airmen in every group help to build partnerships with our foreign exercise participants, our multi-national Executive Observer Program bringing senior air leaders from around the Pacific and Europe to see how we execute RED FLAG-Alaska, and in various trips across the Pacific to build international partner capacity. Finally, we stand ready here at the top of the world for tanker air bridge support to various operations which may include dissuading or deterring others from acquiring or using weapons of mass destruction.

You are here -- in the middle of SOMEWHERE! -- right in the thick of executing every core function of the United States Air Force. Yet, even knowing that and proving recently how capable we are, it cannot mean we will remain static.

So here we are back at the gates of significant change in our service and throughout the DoD. I ask you to view it as opportunity. Let's usher in a renaissance in American Airpower built on a proud legacy and standing on a strong doctrinal foundation. Let's lead that renaissance and -- again as I said to those gathered a few months ago at the 354th OG change of command -- let's forge a future fighting force capable of bridging the draw-down of our decade-long wars, recapturing the essence of our singularly distinctive capabilities, and projecting our success far beyond any of our individual times in service wearing the blue. I'm certain we can do it with our legacy and foundation.

We need now look only toward our destiny.