Tremendous responsibility on military to win

  • Published
  • By CDR Todd Rader
  • 8th Flying Training Squadron commander
My fellow military members,

I have just a few weeks left in command here at Vance AFB and before I leave here, I wanted to thank you all for your dedicated service to our country. As you well know, our nation is as war and the responsibility placed on our military services is tremendous. Your families and your country expect victory; anything else is quite simply unacceptable. We stand between our enemies and our security and if we can't accomplish our mission, our nation faces catastrophe.

When I first received my commission, we faced a Soviet Union and her allies whose determined philosophy, doctrine and strategy was aligned towards the total annihilation of the United States and they would have willingly destroyed us if given the opportunity. I was no longer just a citizen, I was a naval officer sworn to defend the Constitution and the enemies of the United States and our nation's security depended on me and many others doing our jobs to the best of our abilities.

I was trained to fly the P-3C Orion and detect, track and destroy, if necessary, the Soviet Union's nuclear fast attack and ballistic missile submarines and it was serious business. It was a team effort with maintainers supplying my crew with a mission ready aircraft, intelligence analysts providing the cueing to find the submarines, communications specialists providing me the means to communicate with my chain of command, 10 fellow crew members working together to accomplish the mission and many others who supported the mission and we were determined to get our mission done.

Today, that enemy no longer exists, but there is an equally dangerous enemy that knows no geographic boundaries, is responsible to no state government, wears no distinct military uniforms nor follows the Law of Armed Conflict. They are a blood-thirsty enemy chanting "death to America" with treachery in his heart and the will to execute the most horrible and unimaginable acts of destruction to accomplish their goal. They would just as soon kill any one of us as they would shake our hand only because we are United States citizens. On Sept. 11th, 2007, more than 3000 innocent United States citizens were killed. The only reason that the death toll was not higher is because our enemy did not possess the means, but they are working diligently to develop the means for mass destruction.

Our enemy thinks we lack the determination to fight this war. They think we lack the courage and commitment to the very ideals that made this country so great. They think that with the very real threat of another suicide bomb or a beheading, we will exit the battlefield in defeat only hoping that they will not follow us to our country. Our enemy is extremely determined and our perceived weakness for the sting of battle sustains him. He knows he cannot defeat us in direct combat, but that he can only defeat us if we grow weary and quit. Are they right?

Other occupations can afford to falter in their mission as they face off against evil, we cannot. Our determination must be strong, for if we fail to accomplish our mission, all is lost. Our freedom comes with a price that at times throughout our history has unfortunately been paid with the lives of our fellow service members. Can our nation count on us to accept this dangerous mission?

Every day we put on our uniform, we become a part of something special. What we need from our military members is a commitment to excellence. So set your sights squarely on achieving excellence every day in every task. Our military services are the world's best not because of our machines, technology, or software. We are the best because of our most valuable resource, our people. It is you who will carry the fight to the enemy, not an aircraft, a tank or a surface warfare ship. It is you and your warrior ethos who will combat the enemy.

Though Vance AFB is "only" a training base, our mission is vitally important to our nation's defense. Our nation is counting on us to train hard and supplies us with all of the resources we need to accomplish our mission. Challenge yourself on every training sortie, exercise scenario or real world job that you are tasked with. Study endlessly and get to know your procedures cold. Learn as much as you can about the resources you have been provided with and employ them to the best of your abilities and we will be able to defeat our enemy.

John Stuart Mill wrote that "war is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral or patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free... unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

God bless all of you who have taken on the challenge to wear the uniform of our military services and your families.