A decade of the test

  • Published
  • By Col. Tracy Smiedendorf
  • 62nd Maintenance Group
These past few weeks I've seen or heard people talking about lists of the top ten things from this first decade of the millennium as we close out 2009. I told my wife that it seems like only last year we were worried about Y2K and the potential disaster that was supposed to happen when our computers changed from 1999 to 2000. Do you remember that? Some of you reading this would have been in 3rd or 4th grade when the last decade changed over. Much has happened in this decade and to borrow a phrase from our vice wing commander, Col. Mike Hornitschek, I would look back on this last decade as the "decade of the test".

Just looking at the decade from an Air Force perspective we began with the test of Y2K as we entered 2000 and I must say passed that test with flying colors. Just 19 months later our Air Force was tested when our nation was attacked and we were called upon to be its sentry and avenger in the Global War on Terrorism. Part of that test was to deploy Airmen and airpower half way around the world to places we'd never been before in austere locations and conditions. In my opinion your Air Force has successfully passed both of those tests. Our nation has not been attacked by air since Sept. 11, 2001 and we've taken Airmen around the world to deliver combat power and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.

In March 2003 our test was Operation Iraqi Freedom and your Air Force played key roles in the preparation and execution of the campaign. From first strike stealth fighters taking down the air defense systems to the largest airborne operation since World War II when our C-17 Globemaster III's airdropped the 173rd Airborne Brigade into northern Iraq to open that front. Throughout the years of OIF your Air Force faced many tests and I can safely say we passed them all and can now look back on our successful accomplishments with pride as the Iraqis stand up their own air force and begin to build a new democratic Iraq.

There have been many other tests for the Air Force throughout the decade from budget and personnel cuts, to tanker replacement and nuclear stewardship. Our Air Force hasn't always passed each one of these, but we are all committed to ensuring we will not fail another one. That's where you come into the picture. We must always be ready for another test, unlike school where you eventually finish and the testing stops, in our Air Force and in life there will always be tests.

Here at McChord we finished this decade with our "year of the test." We aced a Nuclear Surety Inspection, Limited Nuclear Surety Inspection and an Operational Readiness Inspection along with hosting a first-class Air Mobility Rodeo in which our team won Best Air Mobility Wing! I'd give Team McChord an A+ for the "year of the test." Congratulations on a successful "year and decade of the test" and prepare yourselves for the tests we'll face in the coming years and decade.