By Col. Jacob L. Hammons, 152nd Airlift Wing
/ Published January 10, 2020
Col. Jacob Hammons BIO Photo
Welcome to the 2020s! For many of us, the dawning of a new decade signals renewed hope, optimism, and eager engagement of new methods to solve our toughest problems. Many of us make resolutions this time of year – statistically most of us will break them by mid-February. In the spirit of resolution, let’s delve into a topic that I consider of paramount importance to our effectiveness as a military organization – RESOLVE.
In the U.S. Air Force, we obsess over Readiness metrics. Unit, Medical, Deployment, Aircraft Readiness; we wring our hands over percentages and colors on slides. But we rarely talk about resolve, which the U.K. Royal Air Force (RAF) deems to be equally important to warfighting effectiveness. READINESS and RESOLVE complement each other and lead military units to the decisive point in conflict.
RESOLVE: firm mental decision or intention
My favorite example to illustrate the impact resolve can have on winning wars is Great Britain during World War II. Although a superpower, Great Britain was not ready for the onslaught attack on their shores that Germany swiftly presented in the fall of 1940. Although Great Britain possessed a technologically superior air defense system and fighter aircraft, the Germans overwhelming number of bombers and fighters wore down the British defenses. However, the steadfast resolve of Winston Churchill and his military leadership convinced both the Royal Air Force members and more importantly, the British civilian populace, that overcoming the adversity that the attacks on the home soil presented was the only path to victory (spoiler alert: history proved Churchill correct). A genius with the turn of phrase, Churchill said, “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.” This simple sentence captures the essence of resolve. In a great power struggle, neither side can ever truly be “ready”. Adaptability and resolve are the keys to success. Churchill also said, “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war – and that sweat equity teaches us how to deal with adverse and complex situations.
More than an ideology for winning the great power struggles as laid out in the National Defense Strategy, I believe resolve is an integral tool for every day, peacetime use as well. We all have “bad” things happen. Financial woes, personal situations or dealing with demanding Wing Commanders can present tangled webs of adversity for us to fight through. We can’t truly be “ready” for some of these life stressors, but we can have the resolve to overcome them and come out stronger on the other side. Having a strong network of friends, family and co-workers is particularly helpful, as are hobbies and leading a well-rounded Whole Airmen lifestyle.
General Goldfein famously says “Air superiority is not a birth right.” We must fight for it every day. We must prepare ourselves through innovation, doctrine and material solutions in order to defeat our adversaries in a great power conflict. But most importantly, we must have the intestinal fortitude, the single-minded focus and the resolute spirit to endure the hardships that these conflicts will impose on our force. So when we talk about Force Development, let’s not forget that we must develop both READINESS and RESOLVE in our force.
And for those interested in my New Year’s Resolution – Fitness Specialist: Jason Stoner. Bring it.