On a chilly day in December 2001, we drove through the gates of Hurlburt and opened an Air Force door that was unknown to us. For the next 2 ½ years, my pride grew everyday at the opportunity to be a part of the Quiet Professionals and to tell your story when and where it was appropriate.
What could not be seen at that moment was the growth spurt that the Commandos and all of SOCOM were going to experience. Nor the closeness we would draw to our Air Force conventional forces. Yet, it was you, the one with the mission in this now War on Terror, who set the requirements…trained and taught those who came to help and in doing so, exposed a greater audience to the professionalism of your Command. None of this came as a smooth road, for change is never easy…yet, persistence found a better way to do our Nation’s business and Air Commandos, recognized as never before, found themselves leading and serving all across our Air Force and DoD. It has now become the norm to find Air Commando Airmen at every level of NCO and Officer Leadership. The challenge is to keep that professionalism every day on the top shelf in both staff and field operations. This new magazine affords you the place and space to offer thoughtful and questioning discussions on the issues of yet more change. Use it to your benefit!
As an example, in this issue, is a terrific article by former Secretary of the Air Force, Dr James Roche, on the growth of Special Tactics. It is but one example of how vision and hard work can make change a reality. If you need more visuals, go to the Hurlburt Field or Cannon AFB flight lines.
Lastly, the holiday season we just completed from Thanksgiving through Christmas to New Year’s Day is often the highlight of the year for American families. Each day gave us 24 hours to focus on the blessings in our lives from where we live and the bounty of liberties…who we work and play with…and of course, the excitement…and yes, a bit of tension, in being at family gatherings.
But this time was also a very strong reminder that the excitement is often tempered with the everyday reality of Air Commandos and other service members deployed away from family and, too often, in harm’s way. This in itself is yet another blessing for all Americans…that there are strong men, women, and their families who are willing to stand for the protection of us all….it sustains us for this New Year!
Our English language is short on gratitude expressions…so from the heart of all who walk free in the US … THANK YOU!
--PAUL V. HESTER
General (ret) USAF