Saturday, September 13, 2008

Floating down the Salt River

The weather is still so amazing here right now. The water is still warm and the weather hot. Perfect for floating down the Salt River! One of my fun and crazy friends Kathy Gray suggested a float down the river........we all jumped on it. So five of us went- Myself, Kathy Gray, Kathy Rollender, Kelly Brienholt, Deneen Wilson and Monica Whiting. It took us around 2 1/2 hours. I thought it would be boring but we had a relaxing and fun time......good chats, funny pictures, beautiful scenery and good friends. There was no one else on the river which was awesome.....hmmm I wonder why?......oh yeah everyone is at school or work." type="application/x-shockwave-flash" quality="high" scale="noscale" salign="l" wmode="transparent" flashvars="cy=bb&il=1&channel=1513209474815966262&" style="width:400px;height:375px" name="flashticker" align="middle">

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Proud to be an American

This morning Brock and I woke up and with memories of this day......the famous 9/11. Brock was on a run and I was getting the kids ready for school. The phone was ringing off the hook with family and friends worried that Brock had been flying...........fear of him being one of those lost in that act of violence. I turned on the tv and with shock tried to comprehend what I was seeing. Brock walked in the door to see tears streaming down my face. Only a few know how closely this event is for Brock and I. We do not talk about it nor do we care to.

What we do speak loudly about is how proud we are to be an American and that no one can take away those feelings......not even a terrorist.

Brock served 9 plus years in the military and we have true patriotism for this country. WE proudly served those years. And I say WE because when he went off on assignments, spent months away from me in Iraq, and hours away from me and the kids, I had no regrets. I only had pride. I am proud to be an American. How proud I am of Brock.

Brock recently made a post on our family website. I want to share his words.

"A friend of mine called me a couple of weeks ago and asked me to be the keynote speaker at his commissioning ceremony. He had finished his long training to be an officer in the AZ National Guard. Their original speaker was the Governor, but she backed out and they called me (I guess I was on the short list).

We went to the ceremony Sunday and it brought back many memories. I held back the tears as I looked at those young men and women in uniform that are willing to lay it all on the line for me and for you. My friend was the distinguished graduate and received a saber. Rylee asked if I got any awards when I was in, and I told her, yes, but nothing as cool as a saber.The speech was short and sweet, and since it went well, I have posted it below. It was an easy speech to give since I believed in the message.

'General Salazar, Distinguished Guests, Graduates of Class 48, Families, and Friends,I am humbled and honored to speak to you today.I read recently in an aviation trade journal that in the near future airline cockpits will be so automated and computerized that instead of two pilots, there will only be one pilot and a dog. The pilot’s job will be to monitor the aircraft and its systems. The dog’s job will be to bite the pilot if he tries to touch the controls.
We live in an increasingly technical world of computers, PDA’s, cell phones, and robots. (Even my mother owns 2 robots.) The modern battlefield with data links of live video, Night Vision Goggles, infrared guided weapons, GPS smart bombs, and unmanned aerial vehicles is driven and managed with increasing technology. However, technology, as good as it is, will not win wars. People win wars, …but only if properly led.
In the increasingly technical battlefield of today leadership is more important than ever. Why? Because the power entrusted to today’s soldier is greater than ever. The stakes are greater. The consequences are greater. The need for leadership is greater.
The Southwest Airline Flight Operation Manual states:Southwest Airlines Pilots are expected to contribute to the accomplishment of the department and Company missions through disciplined and professional application of flying skills; however, performance expectations go far beyond technical competence. Southwest Airlines Pilots are expected to think and lead.
Why would Southwest Airlines place such emphasis on thinking and leading if the job is so heavily automated? Because they understand that we are in the people business and people need leadership.As officers in the military you are in the people business and your primary task is leadership.
Technology can make your job easier. If properly used, technology can make you a more efficient and effective leader. However, I would argue that technology cannot replace leadership. It cannot replace leaders like you. You must lead.
In the first Gulf War, coalition forces faced a large and well equipped Iraqi Army and Air Force. According to intelligence reports Iraq had over 500 combat aircraft (the largest in the Middle East at the time) and a well equipped Soviet style air defense system. They had forty three divisions of almost 500,000 troops along the southern front. In terms of troop strength and equipment deployed they rivaled coalition troops. They appeared to be a formidable foe.
At the end of the first Gulf War, 42 of the divisions were rendered ineffective, and over seventy thousand Iraqi prisoners of war were captured. Over three fourths of their tanks, artillery, and other armored vehicles were destroyed. Over 42 aircraft were destroyed in air to air engagements and 137 aircraft fled to Iran. I have a group photo of Iraqi fighter-pilot heroes from the first Gulf War. (bland piece of paper)
If troop strengths and equipment tallies before the conflict were comparable, what made the difference? Leadership! From Gen Colin Powell and Gen Schwarzkopf right on down to Platoon leaders and Flight Commanders, coalition troops were better led. Technology can never replace leadership. It can never replace leaders like you. You must lead.
I deployed to Incirlik, Turkey in July of 1991 as an A-10 pilot in the 78th Fighter Squadron. The operation was named Provide Comfort and our task was to patrol a no-fly zone in northern Iraq and give some relief to the battered Kurds who had been attacked and displaced by Sadam Hussein and his remaining forces.
It was a politically convoluted situation. President George Bush Sr. had stated that he did not want us involved in the conflict, but felt compelled. The top brass of NATO had expressed the same view. On some days we would air refuel from an airborne tanker (like a big gas station in the sky) that was also giving gas to Turkish airplanes, only we were protecting the Kurds in northern Iraq, and they were bombing Kurds in southern Turkey. The situation left a young idealistic Lt, like me, feeling like the whole operation was a waste.
In that moment of doubt it wasn’t the awesome firepower of the A-10, or the magnificent capabilities of the IR maverick missile that inspired me. It wasn’t the top brass mired down in the difficult political situation, or my Squadron Commander, a very effective manager, who inspired me. It was my Flight Commander, Captain Brian B. P. Pratt, and my Ops Commander Lt Col Dave Dill (Dill Pickle) who inspired me and kept me going with their leadership.
One day you may also find yourself fighting in a similar convoluted situation. The fog of war or a messy political situation may leave you or your troops uninspired. In that moment, your troops will not look for guidance and inspiration from “technology managers”. They will not look for leadership from some amazing new piece of technical weaponry. They will look for someone to give them true leadership and inspiration. When they need that leadership, will you be there to provide it?
After the victories of Trenton and Princeton, George Washington wrote, “A people unused to restraint must be led, they will not be drove.” Washington, although a strict disciplinarian and a stickler for details, lit the fires of patriotism and sacrifice in the hearts of his troops. People, particularly volunteers in today’s military, need leadership.
Can a computer inspire people? Can a machine motivate? Can Night Vision Goggles or an infrared sensor cause someone to risk their life for a cause? Can precision guided munitions light the fires of patriotism and sacrifice in a soldier’s heart?
Leadership, that magical stuff that motivates people to endure personal sacrifice and risk life and limb, requires the human touch. Strive to inspire, motivate, and give troops under your care a reason to risk their life even if that reason is nothing more than love for their unit and its members. You can light those fires of patriotism and sacrifice that will burn in the pages of history.
Today you are commissioned as an officer in the military. Your primary duties, like a captain at Southwest Airlines, are to think and lead. Technology can never replace leadership. It can never replace leaders like you. You must lead.I challenge you to be leaders. I urge you to be leaders. For the good of your unit; For the good of your state; For the good of your country – lead on!"