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Kennedy to AF’s newest aviators: ‘Seek knowledge about potential adversaries’

Three 14th Flying Training Wing instructor pilots look at a guide prior to the graduation ceremony of Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-08/09 Feb. 28, 2020, at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Instructor pilots go to the ceremony to show support to the students they helped train. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Davis Donaldson)

Three 14th Flying Training Wing instructor pilots look at a guide prior to the graduation ceremony of Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-08/09 Feb. 28, 2020, at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Instructor pilots go to the ceremony to show support to the students they helped train. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Davis Donaldson)

Maj. Gen. Kevin Kennedy, assistant deputy chief information officer, digital transformation and assistant deputy chief of staff for cyber effects operations, speaks during Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-08/09’s graduation ceremony Feb. 28, 2020, at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Kennedy has conducted more than more than 3,400 flight hours, including 720 combat hours. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Davis Donaldson)

Maj. Gen. Kevin Kennedy, assistant deputy chief information officer, digital transformation and assistant deputy chief of staff for cyber effects operations, speaks during Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-08/09’s graduation ceremony Feb. 28, 2020, at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Kennedy has conducted more than more than 3,400 flight hours, including 720 combat hours. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Davis Donaldson)

Col. David Fazenbaker, 14th Flying Training Wing vice commander, hands Maj. Nicholas Kanakis, Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-08/09 graduate, his graduation certificate Feb. 28, 2020, at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Student pilots at Columbus AFB train more than a year before graduating from SUPT. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Davis Donaldson)

Col. David Fazenbaker, 14th Flying Training Wing vice commander, hands Maj. Nicholas Kanakis, Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-08/09 graduate, his graduation certificate Feb. 28, 2020, at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Student pilots at Columbus AFB train more than a year before graduating from SUPT. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Davis Donaldson)

Graduates from Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-08/09 break their “silver wings” at their graduation ceremony Feb. 28, 2020, at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. As tradition and upon graduating pilot training, graduates break their first pair of “silver wings.” (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Davis Donaldson)

Graduates from Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-08/09 break their “silver wings” at their graduation ceremony Feb. 28, 2020, at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. As tradition and upon graduating pilot training, graduates break their first pair of “silver wings.” (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Davis Donaldson)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss.-- Maj. Gen. Kevin Kennedy, assistant deputy chief information officer, digital transformation and assistant deputy chief of staff for cyber effects operations, was the guest speaker for Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-08/09’s graduation ceremony Feb. 28 at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.

Kennedy said he was grateful to be a pilot, and urged the graduates to also be grateful and to thank their families, friends, spouses, instructors and others.

Kennedy told the students they should be excited for their chosen career path as well.

“I can think of no greater career to have other than what I’ve had as a pilot in the United States Air Force,” Kennedy said. “I will always be thankful for that, but I did not get there without support.”

From there, he explained what the pilots were taught throughout SUPT and why it’s necessary.

He said the pilots learned about three things: their aircraft, the weather and themselves.

“SUPT is using everything in your power to study and to understand, the three real capabilities you’re going to try now and deploy in the air,” Kennedy said. “One is your aircraft, two is the weather and three is you. You’re trying to make those three things come together in pilot training, to execute.”

Kennedy reflected on when he went through training and said he remembered what it was like. He encouraged the students that SUPT is one year of their career and it should not be dwelled upon.

Kennedy, now a major general, said while in training none of his graduating classmates probably would have thought he would be where he is today.

For himself, he said his pilot-training experience was well for the most part, but there were times he thought he might not graduate.

“My pilot training experience was fantastic for 10 months, then bracketed by two months where I wasn’t sure I was going to graduate,” Kennedy said. “This one year is just a year. It defines that you’re a pilot, not how well your career will be.”

Kennedy gave the graduates guidance on how they can successful in their own careers.

Kennedy said everything the graduates were taught during SUPT is vital, but now they need to also turn their attention elsewhere, and they need to study the enemy.

“Continuously seek knowledge on what you were taught here, except I’m going to add one more thing to the equation,” he said. “In training, you’ve been thinking through the same things: is the aircraft ready? Is the weather ready? Am I ready? But now you need to seek knowledge about potential adversaries.”

Kennedy said knowing the enemy is essential and from every platform. Understanding the enemy from space, the air, the sea, the ground, space and cyberspace is important, he said.

In closing, Kennedy showed appreciation for the opportunity to be the ceremony’s guest speaker and encouraged the new pilots with one last motivating remark.

“Listen to the advice of your instructors, keep your family close, build the team, continuously, aggressively seek knowledge and you will be very successful in our Air Force,” Kennedy said. “And always remember, the mission of the United States Air Force is to fly, fight and win, in airspace and cyberspace, with an emphasis on winning.”

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