TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Last month, our Secretary of Defense, Retired Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, released guidance to all Department of Defense personnel reminding us that we are our nation’s “department of war.”
He emphasized that we must pursue three areas of focus to ensure we are prepared to deal with dynamic world threats “characterized by a decline in the management of the rules-based international order.” Essentially, his proposed areas of focus include three priorities. First, a strategic, national level restoration of our military readiness with an increased capability of lethality. Second, a strengthening of our global alliances and growth in our international partnerships. Third, an overhaul of our traditional practices in order to bolster innovation while simultaneously enhancing budget discipline and resource management.
Mattis specifically emphasizes in his guidance that our attitudes are contagious across the entire force and it is our responsibility to serve with a “sense of urgency and purpose every day.” After reading his guidance, I am encouraged by his vision of our future force, which will continue to develop into the best force our country has ever seen through the continued use of innovative and aggressive defense strategies. However, I want to take Mattis’ words a step farther by acknowledging how much we have evolved as a force over the last two decades.
Today, I am absolutely convinced that we enter this new era of national defense strategy completely prepared; with a seasoned cadre of leaders, both civilian and military, across our force. As we look to the challenges of the future we must not forget that, for the past 16 years, we have been a nation in conflict and a military engaged in global combat operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Our force has been participating in wartime operations non-stop for nearly 20 years. Because of that, we as a force need to be confident in our abilities as a national defense organization.
No other generation of career military members has directly supported combat operations for the entire cycle of their military careers. We must not forget that those who serve today are the most seasoned and the most prepared generation of fighters that has ever existed in our nation’s military history. We are ready — a combat proven force with a cadre of leaders who have engaged our adversaries in global kinetic and non-kinetic military operations for 16 years straight. It is an amazing and unprecedented feat that, I argue, undoubtedly prepares us for whatever lies ahead.
As we look to the future and posture for the challenges of tomorrow, we must also remember that our force’s greatest strength and greatest resource is its people. Our people are highly capable, highly diverse, highly motivated individuals who possess a wealth of knowledge as a result of their intense and long-lasting involvement in our nation’s security strategy. It is this seasoned, all-voluntary force that will continue to set us apart from our foes.
As we go forth to pursue Secretary Mattis’ areas of focus and continue to evolve and prepare for the “high end” fight that lies ahead, let us not forget: we ARE a proven and lethal force, and we ARE ready to answer our nation’s call.