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PRESIDENT'S CORNER - March 2004

Since the publication of the last newsletter, I was approached by Major Amber Cargile, an IMA (Reservist) to the Director of Public Affairs at AIA to answer questions for articles she was preparing for the Command’s magazine, "The Spokesman”. For this issue’s President’s Corner I thought my responses to her questions would be of interest to our membership. Her articles are also published in this issue.

1. What are your goals for FTVA as the incoming president?

I will work with the rest of the FTVA board of directors and the membership at large to make the association larger, stronger and more viable for the future. These goals are very interdependent and all point toward bringing AIA active duty people into FTVA and getting them involved in the association’s activities. At the same time, we’ll do our best to reach those who formerly served with the command and are now serving elsewhere or are retired. Each time I go to a funeral or remembrance ceremony for one of our members, I’m reminded that all of our clocks are running and someday will run out, requiring that we bring in a continuing supply of fresh blood that will allow FTVA to go forward into the future. The command heritage is a very important thing to me, as it is for every one of our members, and I feel a personal responsibility to do whatever it takes to preserve that heritage and make it even stronger as we go forward.

2. as a former vice commander of ESC, how do you view the importance of FTVA to the command?

I’ve always believed that tradition and heritage are very important contributors to the esprit de corps and mission effectiveness of military organizations. It was important to me to know that what I was doing both as a young officer and later in leadership positions involved carrying on the work of older people I admired and respected, facing the same types of challenges they faced, and working as hard as I could to do as well as they did. My fondest hope is that today’s AIA professionals think that way. FTVA is a great concept for preserving that linkage between the professionalism of the present and that of the past. You see that most clearly in the association’s annual reunions and the SENSOR OLYMPICS events when oldsters like me get a chance to talk with our successors to get a better understanding of what the professional challenges are that they’re dealing with today. I think this dialog is helpful to AIA people in that it provides them a historical context for evaluating what they’re doing today and how they go about doing it. I know that FTVA members have been greatly encouraged over the last couple of years to hear Major General Lebras talk about how important the concept of heritage is in his scheme of things. Heritage and people are tightly interwoven, and it’s the importance of both of those to AIA’s mission effectiveness that has led FTVA to contribute over $165,000 to AIA people recognition programs over the last 20 years or so.

3. Why should active duty members join FTVA?

AIA people have always operated at a very high level of professionalism—witness the John Levitow and other leadership and achievement awards our people win wherever they compete, as well as their ongoing contributions to the war on terrorism. I believe that professionalism requires, among many other things, a good understanding of how today’s missions and individual responsibilities evolved from yesterdays, and how today’s day-to-day tasks are impacted by yesterday’s events. FTVA membership provides a forum, a channel for active duty people to talk over today’s challenges and how they compare to those of the past. In a way, the past-present dialog is a very informal, but very effective "lessons learned” for today’s active duty members. The informality of the dialog I’m talking about makes it a very special part of professional development, and I’m convinced from my conversations with today’s active duty people that professional development is still a very important part of their overall scheme of things.

4. Why do you think it's important for FTVA to induct people into the Hall of Honor each year?

The command has always placed great emphasis on excellence in individual performance, necessitated by the nature and importance of our mission. And, as your readers know very well, recognition is also a priority device for those in leadership roles to carry out their responsibilities to the people they’re leading. The founding members of FTVA--leaders all-- well understood the importance of individual achievement to mission success. They also were well aware of the high levels of talent, character, and dedication that had existed historically within the command’s people, and believed that individual recognition was an important element of heritage building and preservation. From that line of thinking came the Hall of Honor. The annual selection of people who have made significant contributions to the command’s mission success is one more means of emphasizing the criticality of individual excellence in every chapter of the command’s history

5. How important do you think the mission of AIA (and its predecessor commands) is to our national security and our nation's future?

Let me go back more than a few years. When I entered the Air Force as an ROTC graduate in 1962, it was my firm intention to complete the required term of service (three years) and then return to civilian life. After technical training at Good fellow, the leadership responsibility I was assigned as a USAF Security Service flight commander and the nature of the mission my unit was doing 24/7/365 caused me to think again about my future. In the late 60’s, service in Vietnam showed me that the business we were in did, in fact, save lives and make a difference in mission success or failure. That experience convinced me that the command’s mission was important enough to the nation’s survival and well being that I should spend a career working for the mission’s success. In today’s Information Age, it seems to me that AIA’s information operations mission is even more essential to our national security, witness the prominent role the command played recently in the DARK SCREEN exercise of network security.

6. How has the mission changed/evolved since your tenure at ESC?

Conceptually, not a great deal. Although it’s true that today we’re in more of an "operator” role than a support provider, we’re still exploiting and protecting targets. What has changed is the nature of the targets we exploit and protect, and the tools we use to carry out those functions. The other factor that has changed and had an effect on our operations is an increased level of understanding across the Air Force and DOD of the power of information operations and its importance to mission accomplishment. That fact relates directly to our evolution from "supporter” to "warfighter.”

7. When did you retire? How many years of service?

I retired in 1991, shortly after the end of Gulf War I, with 29 years of service, most of it either in, or connected with, USAFSS and ESC.

Remain In Touch,

Grover Jackson

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