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View from the Top: The first year

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AETCNS) -- Recently, I celebrated my first anniversary as a member of the Air Education and Training Command team. During this time, we've faced a number of challenges and achieved tremendous success fulfilling our mission to develop America's Airmen today for tomorrow.

Shortly after I arrived, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated Keesler and a large portion of the Gulf Coast region. Instantly, I was amazed by your willingness to roll up your sleeves, jump in, and help those overpowered by these destructive storms. From performing heroic rescues to delivering emergency medical care to providing safety and security, First Command Airmen made a difference. Despite heavy damage to its infrastructure, the arduous task of rebuilding Keesler was quickly underway, thanks again to your efforts. In fact, just days after Katrina wrought unspeakable destruction on the Biloxi and Gulfport areas, Keesler was back in business, training Airmen in critical career fields to keep our Air Force strong in the Global War on Terrorism.

Even through our recovery efforts, First Command Airmen remained focused on our mission, taking AETC to new heights in the process.

Our recruiters smoothly shifted efforts to help the Air Force meet our congressionally mandated end-strength, bringing in over 20,000 new enlisted and officer personnel in the process. In addition, Basic Military Training graduated over 22,000 enlisted personnel and restructured the course to match a typical AEF cycle in order to provide our new recruits more readiness and combat skills instruction. Along with their BMT accomplishments, in the arena of initial and advanced skills training, 2nd Air Force and their technical training units graduated nearly 190,000 students.

Execution of the flying mission was outstanding! The organizations of the 19th Air Force flew nearly 560,000 hours, graduated 1,259 pilots and almost 20,000 new aircrew members. Additionally, the modernized avionics and glass cockpits in the T-6A and T-38C, combined with the stand-up of the F-22A Raptor training program at Tyndall AFB, allowed AETC-trained pilots to become combat ready and continue our tradition of air dominance.

All along, Air University continued to be a recognized pillar of excellence, providing educational opportunities to over 179,000 graduates via residence and distance learning programs.

All total, AETC recruited, trained, and educated more than 432,000 Airmen for our Air Force and the joint commanders during our first year together. And you accomplished all of this while deploying 3,822 AETC Airmen to fight the GWOT.

Marilyn and I have had the opportunity to visit all of our installations and meet the magnificent men and women who make up AETC. At each and every stop, we are awed and overwhelmed with the dedication, commitment, and performance of our Airmen and their families. It is so obvious that the strength and foundation of AETC is our people. Your commitment to integrity, service, and excellence keep us the recognized world center of excellence for training and education. And you--the Airmen of the First Command--are the key in making AETC a "command of choice."

Let me also take this opportunity to thank all our family members for their unwavering support and sacrifice. Without you, we would not be the world's greatest Air and Space Force!

With all we've done so far, I'm excited to begin my second year as your commander, and look forward to even greater accomplishments as we continue to deliver unrivaled education and training to the greatest Air and Space Force the world has ever seen. It's my great privilege and honor to serve with you as we develop America's Airmen today ... for tomorrow.
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