Air Commandos prepare successors to take up fight

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Tony Bauernfeind
  • 15th SOS commander
What does "Developing the next generation of Air Force and Air Commandos" mean to you? To me, this Aimpoint is a vital key to our future.

As Air Commandos, we have a rich heritage of stepping up and getting the job done when our nation has needed our specialized skills. As we proceed into the future, we must prepare to deliver these capabilities and continue to earn our nation's confidence with our abilities. There will be many challenges along the way, including the "long war" our nation is currently facing against tyrannical entities bent on spreading fear, terror and oppression throughout the world.

To insure our national security and continue the spread of freedom, both formal and informal leaders have the prime responsibility of preparing our replacements to tackle the daunting challenges our military and nation will face.

Our history can be traced from our current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan back to World War II. During this 65-year period, there were Air Commandos executing missions in Korea and Vietnam, in operations such as Desert Storm and Just Cause, and a myriad of other missions in between.

What made these operations successful were the formal and informal leaders within each unit tasked to conduct combat operations. In our darkest hour, after the disastrous results of the failed Iranian hostage rescue, it was Air Commando leaders that came to the forefront to lead our mission and people to the level of excellence we experience today.

Without a continued emphasis to develop our next generation of leaders, our community will not attain the same excellence our predecessors achieved on their watch, especially with the ongoing war.

The current conflict has expanded from an isolated battle between the United States and Al Qaeda to a global war of irreconcilable ideologies. Similar to the Cold War fought by previous Air Commandos, we are waging this war to insure our democratic beliefs framed on individual freedoms will prevail over militant ideologies based on fear, terror and oppression.

This is not, and will never be a conventional battle. It will take years, if not generations to achieve victory. Our national leaders require specialized capabilities to target these organizations and end their reign of terror; we are here to fulfill these requirements.

Terrorists started this fight prior to 2001 and we are still at war many years later. We cannot always rely on our current cadre of leaders to wage this war into the future; eventually, everyone will move on to other "pastures."

To win this war, we must constantly prepare our next batch of leaders to take over and get the job done.

Gen. Wilbur Creech, former Tactical Air Command commander, often noted, "The first responsibility of leaders is to create more leaders." From the Air Force Special Operations Command commander to the three-level maintenance troop on the flight line, every Air Commando has a responsibility to prepare their successors to take up the fight.

Our nation expects us to conduct our missions on a moments notice - without failure.

Given this responsibility, our future success is contingent upon preparing the next level of Air Commandos to lead our forces to victory, in both current conflicts and other unforeseen contingencies.

To sustain the proven excellence of our special operations heritage and posture ourselves for victory, it is imperative to get out there and mentor, develop and train our replacements.

Whether it is the formal commanders or informal leaders, our specialized mission and community requires for success, developing our next generation of Air Force and Air Commando leaders is a critical, no-fail mission. Get it done.