Air Force secretary tells cadets of changing times|
by Ann Patton
U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
4/14/2008 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo (AFPN) -- The Air Force has met the challenge of change with a combination of innovation, adaptability and flexibility for the last 60 years, said the Air Force secretary in his address to first and third class cadets April 8 in Arnold Hall here.
"Character and leadership skills are always in high demand and in short supply," Secretary Michael W. Wynne said.
"We can't wait for you to come," he told the Class of 2008. "You will find yourself joining a terrific group of people, and we hope you will have a wonderful, wonderful career."
To the Class of 2010, he said, "You are about to assume leadership positions next
year and the year after that. They will be tremendous opportunities."
Secretary Wynne reflected on the beginnings of the Air Force and the Academy. He cited the farsightedness of Gen. Henry H. Arnold, who recognized the force of airpower as early as 1918, as well as Generals William Lendrum "Billy" Mitchell and James Harold Doolittle, all of whom pushed the need for airpower.
"We know our heroes in our U.S. Air Force," Secretary Wynne said as he pointed to buildings named after those heroes at the Academy.
After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy in 1966, Secretary Wynne entered the Air Force and served for seven years. He ended his active duty career as assistant professor of astronautics at the Air Force Academy. Secretary Wynne called the Academy's setting "stunningly beautiful" and a reflection of the American West, a symbol of what's new in America, of hope, of the future and of the frontier.
"How times change," he said of the history of airpower.
He pointed out, for example, women in the Air Force now serve as Air Force pilots, aircrew and in convoy operations.
"Valor and sacrifice are found in both men and women," the secretary said. "They are innovators because we train them that way."
In addition, it is no longer just ground forces that enemies consider a threat. It is also airpower and cyber weapons they fear.
This year marks "a new birth in national defense" with the Air Force Cyber Command joining space and air missions as a new domain, he said.
"Putting it in the Air Force is like ringing a bell that cannot be unrung," he said. "With these three domains in place, our total fighting force is multiplied."
Secretary Wynne told cadets they will be part of new ways of waging war.
"As warriors, you are a product of the timeless verities of war; a legacy shared with every Soldier, Sailor and Marine," he said. "But you are more. You are the product of a culture that has valued innovation over ritual and value in finding solutions rather than paying homage to tradition."
Character, defined by integrity, service and excellence all "define the culture that lives within the Air Force," Secretary Wynne said.
He cautioned cadets they will quickly be faced with temptations, which could compromise character.
"Our service succeeds only because of the integrity of our Airmen," he said.
He told cadets that service could demand separations from family, deployments, temptations of lucrative career opportunities and risking their lives.
"To wear this uniform you must be willing to put your own goods behind that of service and country," he said. "This is the meaning of service."
Secretary Wynne said fighter pilots have to be the best or they will die. Plus survey, reconnaissance and logistics leave no margin for error.
"If character is about doing the right thing, leadership is about standing for something," he said.
Leaders look out for their people and must be accountable. Secretary Wynne said leaders also need to keep learning and know where they want to go and what to do to get there.
He praised cadets for their willingness to serve in the post-Sept. 11 era and stressed war changes with time.
"I can't guarantee the war we are fighting today will be the kind we will fight in the future," he said.
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