What lies ahead

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Wendy Jones
  • 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
Fellow Airmen, with my Air Force career nearing an end, I have been contemplating the past, present and future of our United States Air Force. I wonder in what direction the Airmen of today will take the greatest flying force in the world, just as my chiefs contemplated the future twenty years ago. I would like to take you on a short journey, briefly through the past, present and possible future. After all, you, and you alone, will make the decisions and take the actions to journey through the unknown.

Many of today's career Airmen reminisce about the old days, the 80's and 90's; I will not. Quite frankly, those days were not that great. Many of the safety and training requirements now in effect were nonexistent back then. I remember hoping, as a crew chief, to end my career with all my fingers intact, for many of my supervisors were missing a digit or two. We lacked most of the current technology, rotary dial phones, no computers or cell phones. It was not all bad though. In 1985 I laid my eyes on an incredible feat of technology: the F-117A Nighthawk. Now, she is retiring just as I am and, at least to this point, we are both mission capable.

This leads me to the present. First, I need to compliment today's young Airmen. You are so much smarter than we were. You have information at your fingertips, able to view world events as they occur. You are computer-and technology savvy with higher levels of education as a whole. You really do impress this old chief. Today's Air Force requires an absolute focus on safety and an abundance of training opportunities to deal with fiber optics, smart bombs and UAVs, to name just a few. Beyond the increased focus on safety and training is the constant change and improvements occurring almost daily. Today's Airmen do not wait for change to be a necessity; you challenge the norm and are always looking for a better way.

The future: what will our Air Force look like in 10 or 20 years? Future chiefs and colonels, you will be responsible for molding and shaping the future. Will it be safe? Will training always be important and abundant? How smart will future Airmen be and what will they bring to the fight? Think about the future and the changes you can make. These changes may be small at first, but the reaction and effects may be monumental. Please take and make every opportunity to embrace and implement positive changes to maintain our position as the greatest flying force in the world.

I truly believe we are the greatest Air Force in the world past, present and future. All Airmen dedicate themselves to a way of life that is truly phenomenal. Learn lessons (good and bad) from the past, relish the present and anticipate the future. The Air Force is in great hands and I know today's Airmen will take us to even greater heights.