Training: the Field of Friendly Strife

Col. C.K. Hyde, 314th Airlift Wing commander

Col. C.K. Hyde, 314th Airlift Wing commander

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- On the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that on other days and other fields bear the fruits of victory
-- Army Gen. Douglas McArthur

I had the privilege of leading a contingent from the 314th Airlift Wing to the United States Air Force Academy last week to interact with the cadet squadron we sponsor. 

Several of our team received orientation flights, and we reciprocated by taking the cadets on C-130 tactical flights, informing them about our mission and attending the Falcon football victory with them. 

It was inspiring to interact with the next generation of Air Force leaders. Each day they are engaged in the "friendly strife" -- academics, military training, intramurals and intercollegiate sports such as football, which teach them lessons essential for future success. As we watched the game, I thought of General McArthur's direction, when choosing the leader of a difficult World War II mission, to "find me a West Point football player." The Academy and other Air Force training programs sow the seeds of adversity, which our newest Airmen must overcome, and stretch them beyond their comfort zone and what they thought was possible. These experiences of "friendly strife" prepare them, just like previous generations, for difficult missions on future battlefields. 

Likewise, our mission of training the world's best C-130 combat airlifters to fly, fight and win prepares crews for success on future battlefields which they will fight long after many of us have retired our uniforms. However, our training differs in one significant way. It's immediately put to the test in the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Failure is not an option for combat airlifters, and we must give 100 percent, 100 percent of the time to make sure our newest warriors have the professionalism and skills to succeed in the current fights. 

Our students are entering the service of our country in a time of war. They face an enemy whose ideology is every bit as evil and dangerous to our nation and our principles of equality, freedom and democracy, as communism and Nazism were before it. We stand against an ideology that seeks to destroy, enslave and impose its will on free peoples and those who yearn to be free around this world. 

It's our job to make sure that our mission, executed in the friendly skies above Arkansas, plants the seeds of victory that America's combat airlifters will reap in our current and future wars. 

We are responsible for the foundation of America's combat airlift capability.