By David H. Petraeus, General, US Army
To the readers of the Air Force Times:
There’s an old saying that the farther you make your way up the flagpole, the more opportunities you have to show your backside. I have managed to show my backside periodically over the years. And when I have done so, I have sought to acknowledge it and, where appropriate, to make amends. This is one of those times.
In a speech to a Marine Corps Association dinner a few weeks ago, I made comments in jest that have understandably been seen as disparaging to Air Force pilots. Some have seen the remarks as more broadly disparaging.
Needless to say, that wasn’t my intent. And when I was alerted to this — by my friend of some years, General Norty Schwartz — I quickly apologized. I now want to use this venue to do that to a wider audience of Air Force members and to explain my enormously high regard for those who wear the uniform of the U.S. Air Force.
Few individuals appreciate the contributions of those who wear the Air Force uniform more than I do. Having spent nearly four years in Iraq and, since leaving Iraq, some 10 months in command of U.S. Central Command, I am keenly aware of what the members of our Air Force have brought to the fights in Iraq and Afghanistan and to the other operations we’re conducting in the CentCom area of responsibility. In the air and on the ground, members of the Air Force have consistently done a magnificent job, putting themselves in harm’s way for our country, their fellow service members and our coalition partners. They have sacrificed greatly, and they have done so during multiple deployments to tough places. They have demonstrated extraordinary courage, skill, innovativeness and determination. I have, in fact, had a unique opportunity to see members of all the Air Force’s elements in action in the CentCom AOR, in virtually every task they perform, and they have been tremendous in every regard.
During my remarks at the recent Air Forces Central Command change-of-command ceremony, I described the enormous contributions of the Air Force members who have been deployed in the CentCom AOR. Those remarks (posted on the Central Command Web site) reflected my enormous respect for those who serve our great Air Force and for their families, as well.
Military operations are, needless to say, a team effort. And as I stated at the outset of this letter, I certainly did not intend to disparage a hugely important element of the team by a joke in my speech at the Marine Corps Association event. For that action, I am, indeed, most apologetic. Beyond that, I would ask that readers who are members of the Air Force team — and, indeed, members of all our services — recognize that my true regard for the Air Force component of the joint team is expressed in my remarks at the AFCent change-of-command ceremony. In that speech, I sought to capture the admiration I have long felt for those who have made American air power the finest in our history and the finest in the world.
Sincerely, David H. Petraeus, General, US Army
|Reprinted with permission.