Perseverance necessary for Airmen in the GWOT

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Richard Johnston
  • 71st Operations Group Superintendent
Recently, while at a command conference in San Antonio, I attended briefings by Air Force Personnel Center specialists explaining why Air Expeditionary Force deployments were being extended from 120 to 179 days.

Although these briefings were interesting, the message was not well received by junior and senior leaders. This was especially true when we were informed that some of our career field's senior NCOs and officers would soon be filling 365-day deployments starting in spring 2008.

What followed were lots of grumbling and despairing questions from the audience concerning the new deployment policies. Much to my amazement, several of my close counterparts in the audience were down-right upset about the new policies.

During one of the breaks later that day, I entered into a few sidebar discussions with some of my peers concerning the new deployment rules. Surprisingly, the feedback I received really amazed me.

Many career NCOs were actually upset about having to deploy for six months to a year. This left me with one pondering question - are the men and women of today's military prepared for the long haul? By long haul I mean, are Airmen prepared for years of sustained operations needed to fight the Global War on Terror?

The word best describing the attitude Airmen need for the long haul is perseverance. Webster's defines perseverance as an insistence or persistent determination to adhere to a course of action.

A good example of a perseverant was Thomas Edison, who predicted it would take him only a few weeks to develop the light bulb. In reality, it took almost two years of failed attempts, new discoveries and prototypes before he would finally find success.
Perseverance is nothing new to us in the military. For example, Karl Von Clausewitz listed perseverance as an integral part of preparing any military war strategy. Additionally, the Tuskegee Airmen weathered through discrimination and segregation in the 1940's and 1950's to become an icon of perseverance in today's modern Air Force.
So what does perseverance have to do with me you ask? As military members, we are more involved in the GWOT than most of our countrymen and women. This requires us to fight an enemy who has no national allegiance, wears no uniform, kills innocent civilians and does not recognize formal rules of war.

Our military today is the best equipped, best maintained and best trained in modern history. We persevered in the past through Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War. We excelled in Operation DESERT STORM and the Balkans conflicts. We are now involved in a war which will probably be the longest in our country's history. It will require all of us in uniform to have perseverance to accomplish the tasks asked of us by our country.

My belief from the day I joined the service is it is our duty to deploy when our number is called. I've served in the Air Force for more than 27 years and I am willing to persevere through another 27 years to win this war on terror. I challenge each and every servicemember today to develop a sense of perseverance...and get ready for the long haul.