Fightin’ From the Forks…Warriors of the North!

  • Published
  • By Col. Paul E. Bauman
  • Commander, 319th Air Base Wing
Warriors of the North, I have the distinct privilege to kick off a series of commentaries by leaders here at Grand Forks AFB. I believe it is important for leaders to communicate their thoughts to their people. All the Airmen at Grand Forks AFB deserve to know where their leadership stands on a whole host of issues--those issues that confront us day-to-day. I believe communicating the views of leadership to everyone will allow us all to better understand each other and better prepare us to accomplish our mission and solve problems.

One of the issues we face today is our identity as Airmen. I fully support our Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Welsh, in his efforts to highlight what airpower does for America and consequently what it means to be Airmen in the greatest Air Force the planet has ever seen. Gen. Welsh very succinctly points out that our Air Force provides Global Vigilance, Global Reach, and Global Power for our nation. Further, he states that the USAF is "The World's Greatest Air Force--Powered by Airmen, Fueled by Innovation."

These are simple concepts, yet we--the very Airmen who comprise the USAF--tend to gloss over them far too often. I urge you to read the document the Chief of Staff sent out to every one of us. This document should make you proud to wear the cloth of our nation. It should help crystalize what it is that our Service does for our country and why it is important. The Air Force has 5 core mission areas--Air and Space Superiority; Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance; Rapid Global Mobility; Global Strike; Command and Control--which together achieve the effects of airpower. Those effects are Global Vigilance, Global Reach, and Global Power.

Every one of you should understand where you fit in our core mission areas and the effects you help achieve. Here at Grand Forks AFB, the Warriors of the North support a broad mission set. The 69th Reconnaissance Group controls every Global Hawk in the Air Force inventory and conducts daily missions for Combatant Commanders throughout the world. The 319th Communications Squadron operates only 1 of 2 control nodes for the High Frequency Global Communications System, which exists to provide reliable command and control to a host of DoD entities and missions, including worldwide global airlift. The 319th Air Base Wing enables these missions, as well as Predator operations for both the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection and the North Dakota Air National Guard. In addition, the 319 ABW supports the Space Surveillance mission of the 10th Space Warning Squadron at Cavalier Air Force Station.

Just this quick summary of missions reveals our contributions to Air Force core missions. Grand Forks Airmen directly impact ISR, Global Mobility, and Command and Control. Our support to these core missions enables the other core missions--Air and Space Superiority and Global Strike. There should never be a question among our Airmen as to how important they are to the Air Force and the nation. No other Air Force on the planet possesses our capabilities, which means that we, as an Air Force team, can offer unique capabilities to our national leaders as they confront strategic challenges throughout the world.

Our Airmen have much to be proud of. To paraphrase our Airman's Creed, we have a proud heritage, a tradition of honor, and a legacy of valor. Each of us carries a torch that was lighted by Eddie Rickenbacher and Frank Luke Jr in the skies of WWI. That torch was passed to the likes of Billy Mitchell, who dared to believe that Airmen were different--that they thought differently about warfare and national defense. That torch was carried by the 63 men who volunteered to accompany Jimmy Doolittle when the Doolittle Raiders undertook what amounted to a suicide attack in the dark days after Pearl Harbor...these were Airmen! That torch was carried by the hundreds of thousands of WWII Airmen who armed, fixed, flew, and supported the largest aerial armadas the world has ever seen. The torch burned brightly when America's strategic airlifters supplied the needs of an entire city--West Berlin--to ensure the light of freedom continued to touch the faces of 2 million people. That torch was kept aflame by Curtis LeMay's Strategic Air Command, which stood perpetual alert throughout the Cold War--bombers, tankers, and ICBMs alike. American Airmen have so ruled the skies that no American soldier has died from enemy air action since the Korean War!

While the missions of Grand Forks AFB have changed over the years, some things remain the same. The world's greatest Air Force has always been powered by Airmen and fueled by innovation. Now is our time. And the mission is Global Vigilance, Global Reach, and Global Power for America. What I ask of you is to exercise professionalism, proficiency, and passion and treat each other as an Air Force family. Live by the Core Values. Do the Right Thing. The fight for freedom starts right here--Warriors of the North are fightin' from the Forks.