On Sept. 16, 2014, the Florida National Guard celebrated the 449th Anniversary of the First Muster in St. Augustine of Citizen-Soldiers on the North American Continent. This week also marks the celebration of the 67th Birthday of the U.S. Air Force. Throughout our past, both the Florida National Guard and U.S. Air Force have forged a culture of selfless service, courage and innovation to achieve our goals. The rich heritage that we draw upon sustains our resolve to meet the challenges of the future; however, resolve alone will not assure enduring success. An adequate, predictable and stable defense budget is indisputably necessary to ensure the security of our nation.
In July of this year, the U.S. Air Force released one of three strategic planning papers titled “America’s Air Force: A Call to the Future.” This document provides a vision for where our Air Force should be in 30 years, and reinforces integration of the Total Force (Active, Guard and Reserve). The collaborative and transparent processes directed by the Secretary of the Air Force, the Honorable Deborah James and the Air Force Chief of Staff, General Mark Welsh have enabled candid dialogue between all three components. Remarking on the results of the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force that were released in January 2014, they both emphasized the need for greater reliance on the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve as we shape our future force. Both also acknowledged, however, that the threat of continued Sequestration in FY16 will have a perilous effect on the overall readiness of the Air Force.
The recent events in Ukraine, Iraq and Syria, combined with increased threats to our homeland, demand a U.S. force that includes a fully-integrated Air Force – one that meets our “fight tonight” requirements as well as our sustained, rotational needs. The Air National Guard, along with each of our sister components and services, will be critical to the nation’s strategic security goals.
As both the Florida National Guard and Air Force celebrate their collective heritage this week, we continue to fulfill our forefathers’ vision of having a ready force to safeguard our state and nation at home and abroad. We must ensure that we make the right decisions today to hedge against the uncertain challenges of tomorrow.
Emmett R. Titshaw Jr.
Adjutant General of Florida