Letter To Airmen: Support to Operations

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Last month I wrote about my AOR trip and the outstanding impacts Airmen are making in OIF and OEF every day. This month I want to salute all those who provide support to operations around the globe. From the acquisition professionals whose rigorous analysis resulted in the selection of a new air refueling tanker to the numerous Air Force agencies that contributed to the recent satellite intercept, thank you for all you do to defend America. Your efforts ensure we maintain the Global Vigilance, Reach and Power required to defend our National interests.

I am continually amazed at the Air Force's ability to project combat power to any spot in the world from non-deployed locations. Every hour of every day, Airmen conduct network-enabled ISR missions from the United States and distributed locations around the world using Predators, Reapers and Global Hawk UAVs to support combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, or wherever the Joint team needs them. Air Force Distributed Ground Stations collect and analyze massive amounts of imagery and data resulting in actionable intelligence for Joint and Coalition operations and national decision makers. Meanwhile, mobility Airmen provide airlift, tanker and aeromedical bridges that deliver Joint personnel and equipment rapidly to, from and throughout the AOR. This combination of reachback and mobility decreases the number of Airmen deployed and saves lives by drastically reducing the number of ground force convoys required to travel on dangerous roads as well as getting the injured to medical facilities rapidly.

Recently, our knowledge enabled Airmen once again provided operational impact beyond the CENTCOM AOR by supplying critical expertise in support of a multi-agency effort. In this instance, Airmen played a pivotal role in destroying an uncontrollable NRO satellite on a trajectory to re-enter Earth's atmosphere with 1,000 pounds of toxic fuel onboard. This satellite posed an unacceptable threat. With the tracking and targeting information, weather analysis and space situational awareness provided by Airmen, the satellite was successfully destroyed and this transformational space event eliminated a risk to public safety. Although media attention focused on the missile launch and intercept phase, this amazing achievement would not have been possible without the diligence and expertise of the professional Total Force Airmen who brought Air Force space and cyberspace capabilities to bear. While Air Force missileers have provided disciplined nuclear strength for decades, this intercept demonstrates Airmen's contributions to the defensive side of our reachback missile team.

The world understands the many roles our Airmen have played in CENTCOM during the last 17 years of continuous combat operations, but these successes could not happen without reachback support. Last month's space operation highlights the unique contributions Airmen bring to air, space and cyberspace around the world. When America and her combatant commanders call, you consistently answer, delivering decisive effects as part of the Joint team. Thank you for safeguarding the public and for all you do for our country every day.