The only thing that remains constant is change – it happens around us everyday. When we face change we can choose to embrace it, or ignore it and let change occur without us.
When we continue with business as usual instead of rising to the challenge of change, we eventually become extinct, but by embracing change we ensure our relevancy into the future. The Air Force has fought in many different conflicts over the years. Each operation requires us to review our strategies and tactics to guarantee they are the best to win our current, and future, fights.
During the Cold War, we prepared ourselves to face a large superpower. The tragic events on 9/11 presented us with an enemy that required different strategies and tactics. Today, we face an organized system of terrorists who wear no uniforms. With this new fight come new challenges like quickly being able to take out fleeting and mobile targets. We also need to figure out how to handle and neutralize a terrorist who has strapped-on C4 explosives before he can harm others. It’s clear change is required for us to remain relevant and successfully win all future conflicts.
There are different aspects to change. One aspect is the technical challenge – solving the problems that allow us to adapt and overcome. Harnessing new technology and exploiting it against our enemies is one way we can adapt to meet these technical challenges. The other aspect, and usually the more difficult to achieve, is the attitude and motivation required to effectively change. Vince Lombardi stated, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” Most of us are normally resistant to change – mainly because change brings out a fear of the unknown. It requires us to move out of our comfort zone into unfamiliar territory. Others oppose change because of a fear of failure.
History holds many examples where failure accompanied initial change, but through perseverance, success was eventually achieved. Abraham Lincoln failed early at business, was defeated in his run for the Senate and passed over as a Vice-Presidential candidate, but he never gave up. He went on to become one of the greatest Presidents of our United States with the courage to change our nation in ways that are still being felt today. Change requires the courage to move out of the familiar into the unfamiliar and to overcome our fears and failures until we succeed.
Change – it’s inevitable. We can anticipate it, embrace it, lead the way and be successful, or we can drag our feet, let change happen and react after it’s too late. It’s been said that when you’re through changing, you’re through. Stay ahead of all who oppose us and keep us the most respected and feared Air Force in the world – embrace change!
General Doc Foglesong, CMSgt Gary Coleman