Col. Hull: Exercise because the threats are real

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- We're gearing up for some pretty heavy exercising during the next couple months. No, I'm not talking about running a few laps at the gym in our sneakers and Air Force PT uniforms, although that form of exercise is important. I'm referring to several training exercises on the near horizon. What we do and how we perform during these exercises will tell us if we're truly ready for our real-world commitments.

It's far too easy to fall into the trap of saying, "We've done exercises like this before - we'll go through the motions and be just fine." That attitude spells disaster. Our nation expects, requires and deserves the very best from its Airmen.

Why do we constantly exercise our abilities? Because the threats are real. Remember, it's called the Global War on Terror because terror knows no boundaries. If there's another 9/11 on American soil or another natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina, we need to be experts in the new Air Force Incident Management System. A real disaster or crisis isn't the time to be ironing out the wrinkles of a new crisis response system.

How about a more traditional Cold War scenario - why is it important to train for that in 2007? Again, the threat is real. America isn't universally beloved.

Believe it or not, the Warriors of the North give our nation's leaders tremendous military options, "sovereign options" as it states in the Air Force mission. We need to be ready when called upon - that is why we continue to train for any and all missions.

I know exercises mean longer hours, additional stress and a little more time away from home - I share those same frustrations. Be proud of your role as Airmen in the greatest Air Force the world's ever known. Greatness is not accidental. The 319th's role in supporting our nation's defense remains as vital as ever. Our ability to provide aerial refueling, air mobility and expeditionary combat support is critical to the success of our military and our allies.

We all have a tremendous responsibility for supporting airpower. Let's remind everyone what the 319th can do; let's prove once again that only the best go north!