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News > Commentary - A look forward: USAFA Supt. outlines vision for the future
A look forward: USAFA Supt. outlines vision for the future

Posted 1/9/2014   Updated 1/9/2014 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson
Academy Superintendent

1/9/2014 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Happy New Year to each of our cadets, permanent party, graduates, friends and supporters! I hope you enjoyed a wonderful and safe holiday break. As we jump into 2014, I wanted to share my initial thoughts from my first months as Superintendent, how we are handling some of the challenges we are facing today, and my vision for tomorrow.

We at USAFA are taking a fresh look at what the Air Force needs from us in the next five to ten years. Over the next few months, we will implement a back-to-basics approach with the overarching goal to foster a culture of commitment and climate of respect across the Academy. The nation expects our graduates to emerge from this Academy as lieutenants ready to lead from the very beginning. Accomplishing this requires thoughtful planning and execution. We need to understand exactly what is required to graduate top-quality lieutenants, exceptionally well prepared to lead Airmen in our Air Force.

The Air Force Academy's purpose is to produce leaders who are exceptionally well prepared to lead in a complex, challenging, technically sophisticated, and ever-changing geopolitical environment. This singular purpose is embedded in each cadet activity and yields leadership development that is greater than the sum of its parts. The Academy offers a broad spectrum of academic, athletic, aviation, and military training, education and experiences unlike any other commissioning source. We believe that the young men and women who pursue these opportunities at USAFA and dedicate themselves fully to their achievement will become leaders of character for our Air Force and the nation.

Our essence stems from the breadth and depth of our offerings, our four-year cadet experience, and how we execute our mission. The intentional and integrative nature of character and leadership development allows cadets to learn and apply leadership principles through daily challenges and opportunities. Through world-renowned air, space, and cyber programs, cadets gain an operational mindset and appreciation for the wide range of Air Force Missions. Our graduates are not just engineers, logisticians, pilots, or doctors. They are leaders who require a robust education steeped in humanities while providing necessary Air Force specialty requirements. Theoretical, abstract thinking coupled with applied problem solving disciplines will prepare cadets for the uncertain and ambiguous operational environments they will face. A wide range of competitive opportunities at USAFA enhances our cadets' determination, demands commitment, and teaches life lessons that will shape them into more capable leaders. The list goes on, but you get the sense USAFA offers something not replicated anywhere else.
As we move forward into a challenging fiscal environment, it is important that we remember who we are--focusing on what we can, and must, do, instead of what we should cut. We simply cannot afford to lose the essence that lies at the heart of the Air Force's Academy.

In the next few months, we'll make some very difficult decisions that will impact every aspect of the Academy. Specifically, we'll face impacts in the Dean of Faculty, Cadet Wing and Athletic Department that will challenge our resolve and our teamwork.

Whether you are a cadet, faculty, staff, a graduate, or a friend or supporter of the Academy, we are thankful for your support and we need it now, more than ever, as we strive to develop leaders of character, create and sustain a culture of commitment and a climate of respect, and continue to ensure America's Air Force Academy is producing what our nation needs.

1/21/2014 8:03:07 AM ET
Hang in there My prayers are with you.
Dave Imler, Coffeen Illinois
1/18/2014 10:40:19 AM ET
I remember when the mission was To Fly and Fight. The world has evolved. The most basic core value was exemplified by the Honor Code and its execution by the Wing. Let's bring that back ASAP.
Chuck Hosmer, California
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