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Parsing the Airman’s Creed

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Two years have passed since Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff of the Air Force in 2007, introduced the Airman's Creed. Airmen throughout the Air Force have committed the creed to memory and we've all recited the Airmen's Creed countless times in the past two years. Each time I recite the creed the words deepen in their meaning and clearly reinforce the commitment to support and defend our nation.

Allow me to take this opportunity to review the Chief of Staff's intent of the Airman's Creed "to enhance the building of a warrior ethos among its Airmen and to provide Airmen a tangible statement of beliefs;" along with personal thoughts regarding the passages within the creed.

"I am an American Airman. I am a warrior. I have answered my nation's call."

General Moseley stated the "warrior ethos exhibits a hardiness of spirit, and moral and physical courage." Answering our nation's call reminds me that we're all volunteers; and we represent a cross-section of America as we perform our duty to protect our country and her citizens.

"I am an American Airman. My mission is to fly, fight and win. I am faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor, and a legacy of valor."

"If we don't understand our history, we cannot understand the warfighting contribution that we make," General Moseley said. "During World War II, more 8th Air Force Airmen died than the total number of Marines killed in the war...it took hundreds of bombers to drop hundreds of thousands of bombs on a city, flying into harm's way with a realization that the aircraft may not return," he explained. "Today, with the air supremacy we provide and the technology we use, we are far more lethal and effective."

We owe our heritage to those Airmen who came before us; who fought, struggled, survived and those who died in the successful pursuit of Air Force warfighting objectives. But let us all understand clearly; the responsibility of creating the Air Force's future legacy of valor rests squarely on our shoulders. We will meet these challenges for a new era in warfighting where the focus shifts from tonnage of bombs on a target to space dominance, stealth technology, cyberwarfare and real-time situational awareness. Our proud heritage will depend on the ability to visualize and incorporate new technologies and concepts of military utilization in the continuing battle against terrorism and efforts to attain and maintain global security.

"I am an American Airman, guardian of freedom and justice, my nation's sword and shield, its sentry and avenger. I defend my country with my life."

The words "sword and shield" conjure up images of "Braveheart" and soldiers fighting in toe-to-toe combat. However, in the 21st Century our enemies are smart enough not to engage the U.S. and our allies directly and we need to respond to their method of combat. In our generation of air and space warfare, our "sword" is the stealth bomber, a cruise missile using GPS satellites for accurate targeting or the ability to deny an adversary access to space-based systems and products. The shield is 460th Space Wing Multi-National and Total Force space operators using the Space Based Infrared System to provide near real-time notification of hostile missile launches so that Patriot batteries and Standard Missile-3 equipped Aegis cruisers are best able to execute their missile defense mission in the protection of coalition forces and civilian populations.

Likewise, we monitor the entire world--as a sentry, for indication of missile attacks against North America; and we send Airmen into the theater of operations, as part of an expeditionary force, as our nation's avenger. All the while, fully understanding we may individually pay the ultimate sacrifice for victory.

"I am an American Airman: wingman, leader, warrior. I will never leave an Airman behind, I will never falter, and I will not fail."

Failure is not an option! Enough said.