Airman checking munitions on Air Force birthday

  • Published
  • By Louis A. Arana-Barradas
  • Air Force Print News
Senior Airman Robert Shelton has munitions on his plate on the Air Force's 59th birthday instead of the usual cake, ice cream and punch.

Because for the past 15 years, he and other Airmen around the world will report to work to fight or support the ongoing war on terrorism.

This war -- like all the ones before -- is taking Airmen to dangerous, far-flung locations to do their jobs. Some of those jobs they had never done before. Others at stateside bases provide the people and support needed to carry on that war.

Airman Shelton is a munitions systems journeyman with the 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. As a munitions handling crew member, he'll be sending bombs to aircraft on the line.

"I'll celebrate this year's Air Force birthday the same as I have many others -- at work supporting the mission," the two-and-a-half year veteran said. "And providing direct munitions support to the flightline for daily aircrew training, alert and Operation Noble Eagle missions."

The Air Force may be a year older, but it is doing more today, with a smaller force, than it did even five years ago. Since becoming a separate service in 1947, the Air Force has increased its capabilities and its global reach now stretches into space.

Today, the Air Force and its sister services are busy achieving what Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne called spherical situational awareness. This allows the U.S. military to take "a comprehensive, spherical view -- at once vertical, horizontal, real time and predictive, penetrating and defended in the cyber realm."

But in a message to the force, Secretary Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley said the Air Force is the globe's dominant force in air, space and cyberspace because of its Airmen.

"Our knowledge-enabled Airmen have revolutionized the way our nation defends itself and its allies across the full spectrum of threats," they said.

Yet the threats of terror attacks on the nation are still a reality. That makes the Air Force's role even more important. That reality is not lost on the Airman from St. Augustine, Fla.

"Airpower is, and always will be, a huge part of the war on terrorism," he said. "Without the Air Force, our sister services loose a huge amount of support. Also, with the changing face of homeland security it is very important to have air assets on call and ready to fight."

As Airmen continue to do their duty today, there are even more changes taking place. And each day new technology and smart processes make doing Air Force business smarter and more efficient. It is hard to predict where the service will be in five years.

But that is clear to Airman Shelton.

"I see the Air Force of the future as a more fit, more highly educated and more expeditious force," he said.