Technical prowess

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- “This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.” This is the opening stanza to the Rifleman’s Creed. This simple sentence relays how intertwined the rifleman and the rifle are. The rifleman knows his rifle, inside and out. The rifleman owns the rifle, not as a piece of property, but as an extension of themselves. These simple words ring true for all riflemen and translate directly to all services and across all every sovereign nation. Those that know their weapon, know themselves.

This is no more true than those dedicated to serve in the United States Air Force. We are technical experts in our fields and the better we know our weapon systems, the more lethal we are. The average enlisted Airman spends the first two years of his/her career just getting to become a journeyman. That kind of forethought was not done by accident. Today, there are 18-year-old Airmen operating $200 million satellites, and maintaining $150 million F-22 Raptors. Without their technical prowess, each of these modern marvels would be mere paperweights.

Only those Airmen that know their systems inside and out, top to bottom, will be able to fight through real-world engagements. This statement is not only true for traditional warfighting on the ground and in the air, but true for the realms of space and cyber. Today’s adversarial threats are unlike any we have seen in the past. Threats to information systems, communications systems degradations, denial of satellite signals, and contested space access are becoming commonplace during war-gaming exercises as near-peer adversaries develop systems that limit the ability for the United States to defend the homeland and its interests. By knowing the intricacies of a weapon system, much like the rifleman knows his rifle, an Airman knows what systems are mission critical, which are redundant, and which ones can go to the wayside. Knowing the mission critical ones hones focus to protect those vital parts.

The Airmen enlisting in today’s Air Force are more technically savvy than any previous generation. It is imperative that we embrace this younger generation’s innate thirst for technical knowledge in order to give them a warfighting edge in the emerging battlefield. “This is my weapon system, there are none like it, and this one is mine.”