Happy 68th Birthday USAFE-AFAFRICA Airmen

  • Published
  • By Gen. Frank Gorenc
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander
This year marks the Air Force's 68th birthday, and I wanted to send greetings and a hearty thank you for all of your tremendous successes over the past year...it's been an incredibly busy time!  One of the strongest attributes of our command is that we support everybody.  Our team delivered precise combat power for EUCOM, AFRICOM, and CENTCOM while simultaneously enabling STRATCOM, TRANSCOM, and SOCOM missions. 

We completed our European Infrastructure Consolidation review and executed European Reassurance Initiatives.  We also supported Headquarters Air Force programs including improvements to quality of life, feedback, performance reports, and myriad force support efforts.  The important part is that we accomplished all of this TOGETHER!

Of course, a birthday celebrates not just past-year accomplishments but lifetime achievements as well.  What an impressive 68 years it has been as we celebrate the "World's Greatest Air Force!"  A force capable of global vigilance, global reach and global power with the outright ability to assure, deter, or defeat any adversary.

From our beginnings 68 years ago, we always counted on innovation to help us meet our aspirations.  Innovation is in our DNA and is necessary due to the many changes in the geopolitical, domestic, and fiscal environments.

As an Air Force, we transitioned from World War II to the Cold War and then to the Global War on Terror.  During the Cold War we developed and operated two legs of the Nuclear Triad, ICBMs and bombers, supporting the policies of Containment and Deterrence. Inside the Cold War, we fought proxy wars; Korea, Vietnam, and Central America.  After the Cold War, following Desert Shield and Desert Storm, we flew continuously in the Southern and Northern No Fly Zones in Iraq.  In the on-going global war on terror, we find ourselves operating in all parts of the world.

Throughout this ever-changing landscape, Air Force Airmen count on innovation to ensure success.  Airmen use existing and emerging technology to better Find, Fix, Track, Target, Engage, and Assess the enemy.  Our aircraft went from slow to fast to faster.  Our bombsights, guidance, and navigation systems made dumb weapons "Smart" thereby increasing our accuracy.  Stealth and electronic warfare made our aircraft invisible.  Unmanned aircraft turned persistent ISR and organic strike into a warfighting commodity.  Communications went from Line of Sight to Beyond Line of Sight.  Technology turned night into day and made bad weather irrelevant allowing any time, all weather operations possible.  Air Force Airmen's creativity turned old into new, putting Advanced Targeting Pods on "Strategic" bombers to conduct Close Air Support with help from Joint Terminal Air Controllers using satellite communications while riding horses!

Just as important as technological innovation, Airmen developed the Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) necessary to exploit the advantage.  Numerous training revolutions added events and resources to our quiver that are now part of our everyday training; Air Force Weapons School, Red Flag, Green Flag, Aggressors, Dissimilar Air Combat Training, and better Air-Land integration to name just a few.  The success of our TTPs is due in no small part to our integration of the Air, Space and Cyber domains as new technology becomes available.

Armed with new technology and cutting-edge TTPs, Airmen went on to define and implement many organize, train, and equip innovations needed to solidify our gains.   From our beginnings in 1947, a conscripted force became an all volunteer force; an in-garrison force turned into to an Expeditionary Air Force; the Air Operations Center became a "Weapons System" and a group- level unit; and we merged world-wide ISR with the Digital Common Ground Station.  Additionally, Air Force Special Operations flourished and emerged as a powerhouse.  Without doubt, there are many more we could highlight. 

This endless cycle of Airman-inspired innovation made the Air Force successful in all endeavors.  However, the famed physicist William G. Pollard once said ... "The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow."

So what is necessary for future Air Force success?  We must have innovation, commitment to mission, core values, and vision.  A quiet confidence validated by our tradition of honor and legacy of valor is essential.  Airmen answering their nation's call, who will not falter, who will not fail, will be required.  Pursuing relentlessly "World's Greatest" status is obligatory because as Michelangelo pointed out many years ago ..."The danger for most us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it ... but that it is too low and we reach it ..." 

No one knows what the future will bring and the track record of those who say they do is miserable.  But I do know this; the Air Force will be called to deliver precise combat power from the air, space and cyberspace.  Our brand of power is indispensable to victory.

I ask all USAFE-AFAFRICA Airmen, on the occasion of our 68th birthday:  Will we be ready?  The answer must be YES!  Our past proves it but more importantly our future demands it!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY and THANK YOU for your continuing service to our country.  I am extremely proud of you and proud to be your commander!