It's Generation X's turn

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jason E. Stack
  • 460th Security Forces Squadron commander
It was a normal Tuesday for me as a sophomore in college at the University of New Hampshire in the rural town of Durham.  That day, 15,000 students went about their routines, moving from class to class.  I remember it was morning, and I had just come back from my Introduction to Intelligence class. I was wearing my ROTC uniform because it was our Leadership Lab day.  I walked into my dorm room and turned on the TV, which was still on the weather channel.  I was a Resident Advisor in a freshman dorm and I remember two of my residents rushing into my room saying "change it to CNN!" 

At that moment my heart stopped as I watched the second plane crash into the South Tower in New York City.  I stood there in disbelief. I remember being angry, confused and outraged all at the same time; our nation had been attacked for no reason other than we were free.  It was at that moment my generation was given its opportunity to leave our mark in the history books.  The "Greatest Generation" fought and won World War II, and the "Baby Boomers" fought in Vietnam and survived the long "winter" of the Cold War, now it was "Generation X's" turn. 

On September 11, 2001, we entered into a war that has existed for my entire military career with no clear end in sight.  The conflicts around the world involving the U.S. following Vietnam were small and unconventional, and the relatively quick victory in Desert Storm had us all thinking that warfare had changed into something different, something smaller.  It was up to my generation to figure out how to fight this new enemy on a global scale. We developed new strategies, training, and military organizational structures to combat this ever-changing enemy.  Through innovative leadership we have learned to constantly adapt and overcome at each turn in order to stay ahead of the game.  These capabilities have come to define modern military doctrine and will continue to be the cornerstone of combat and non-combat operations for decades to come.

This war, its victories, defeats, thousands of casualties, and the adaptive abilities it has created, have come to define my generation, and will continue to define the generation that follows.  We must continue to develop new adaptive strategies and challenge our subordinates to constantly think about the next steps in our war on terrorism.  As we draw down in Afghanistan new challenges and threats will surface; we have to face them head on and we can never forget what brought us here.