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Change as a constant

Lt. Col. Brent Vander Pol, the 970th Airborne Air Control Squadron commander at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, taken on July 13, 2013. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Caleb Wanzer)

Lt. Col. Brent Vander Pol, the 970th Airborne Air Control Squadron commander at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, taken on July 13, 2013. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Caleb Wanzer)

Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. -- It seems with each passing day some new change jumps out in front of our Air Force lives. The current budget, global threats, a changing force and Total Force Integration are just a few that come to mind. You can walk down just about any hallway and hear the conversations about how this or that is going to change and how that is going to affect us. I am as guilty as anyone of looking ahead and trying to figure out what this all means.

I have decided that my time would probably be better spent on the things that really never change. The Air Force I joined in 1985 was big and blue and it flew around in a world that was chock full of commies. The Soviet threat drove both the size and mission of that Air Force, so when the Soviet Union finally collapsed under the weight of its own immorality, the Air Force changed too. We weren't as big, but still just as
blue. The Strategic Air Command, a bastion of cold war doctrine, went away and our focus shifted to the changing shape of the Middle East. Desert Shield and Storm showed the world the dominance of air power as they watched precision weapons destroy targets on television. The end of that conflict made our Air Force change again. The accuracy and precision of air power meant that we could probably adjust our force and still meet the threats we faced.

We got smaller. We moved forces, closed bases and became more expeditionary in nature. We spent a lot of time babysitting a Middle-Eastern dictator. We enforced resolutions and sanctions. We stood up for oppressed people in the Balkans and adjusted our tactics and strategy to deal with smaller conflicts. September 11, 2001, forever changed America and our Air Force.

We patrolled our homeland and beefed up security at bases here and abroad. We finally finished what Saddam Hussein started. We became even more expeditionary and deployed to provide freedom to people who had not known it for quite some time. As the curtains begin to fall on the Afghan war, we are left to wonder what will happen next. I am quite certain that what will happen is that some things are going to change.

You see, the constant thing in my career has been change itself. So what should you do, 970th? Focus on the things that have never changed in all that time.

During all that time and change the Air Force was ready. When we were needed, we were ready. As a flying unit, YOUR WHOLE PURPOSE IS TO GET YOUR PLANES IN THE AIR WITH PEOPLE IN THEM WHO KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING. That is the same thing that was expected of the Army Air Corps and it has not changed to this day.

Keep those two things your primary focus. There are many things you have to do, but none of them are ever going to be as important as those two. I am very proud of you. I am grateful for your support and friendship. I am quite certain that the 970th future is very bright. Thanks for NOT sucking!