The keys to success

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- One of the most rewarding experiences of being the 17th Training Group commander is the opportunity to attend graduations from all of our Air Force specialty code-awarding courses. I am honored to have the opportunity to speak at the graduation of many of our firefighting, special instruments and intelligence courses. Based on the massive amounts of knowledge we cram into each Airmen, Soldier, Sailor and Marine's head during their time at Goodfellow, I try to leave all of our graduates with something short, to the point and worthy of remembering.

In my view, three things are critical if you intend to succeed in your military career -- Pride, Professionalism and Passion.

Pride -- The pride of waking up each day and knowing that you have chosen to serve a cause and purpose greater than yourself. Popular culture does not always value self sacrifice and service of the greater good, yet it remains the bedrock on which our military thrives.

It's not always popular to choose the path less traveled -- service to our nation. Often times, that path puts one in harm's way, in distant lands serving in harsh environments and at times willing to sacrifice what we all hold most precious - our lives. Yet it is exactly that sacrifice that makes military service a calling, not just a job, and as such intrinsically rewarding. The pride that each of us feel as we put on our service uniform and answer our nation's call during this very trying time in history should resonate every day.

Professionalism -- The nature of how we conduct military operations is fundamentally different than at anytime in our nation's history. Intelligence and operations have merged into one seamless entity in many ways. As a result, the Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines we graduate in our intelligence AFSCs are the key to an effective kill chain and defeating the threat at hand.

The Joint Force Commander cannot and will not make a decision to employ kinetic or non-kinetic force until one of our graduates makes their substantive call on the validity of a particular target - that is a tremendous responsibility for a young 18-year-old.

Passion -- We are in a struggle for our Nation's welfare and future. The threat of Islamic radicalism is very real and will be a generational struggle. As a member of the United States military you should wake up every day knowing viscerally that what you do directly impacts our culture and secures our future way of life for family, friends and all Americans.

As Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the service of our Nation - you should be passionate about your responsibilities and role you play in preserving the greatest democracy mankind has ever known.

The World War II generation is often times referred to as the "greatest generation." I would encourage each of you to look around at the young Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines at Goodfellow Air Force Base. The next greatest generation is being developed right here, right now.