12 AF (AFSOUTH) commander bids farewell: “People” key to success in life, career

  • Published
  • By Lt Gen Norman Seip
  • Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander
On Sept. 30, I'll serve my last day in the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force has defined my life since 1974 and since then, I've enjoyed every day as an Airman. While the strength of faith and family have certainly carried me these past 35 years, what's been key to my personal and professional successes -- and the successes of our Air Force -- hasn't been any special formula, rather it's the people who I have served with throughout the years.

As I look across the command one last time, I'm humbled by the professionalism and drive of America's Airmen. From the more than 1,000 Airmen deployed in the Air Forces Southern area of focus, to the 26,000 men and women serving in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom and the 43,500 dedicated servicemembers in Twelfth Air Force units -- the real reason for our successes is your sacrifice, patriotism and commitment.

Each time our team has faced an obstacle, it wasn't technology or luck that helped us to prevail, it's been the determination of the individual Airman working tirelessly in defense of our nation that saved the day.

Throughout the last three years, our team has stood up the Air Force's first Unmanned Aerial Systems wing and increased the number of combat air patrols by Predators and Reapers to 36, successfully fielded and deployed the new A-10C aircraft, supported more than 3,600 engagements with aircraft such as the B-1, F-16 and F-15E to protect Coalition forces in OIF/OEF, retired the F-117 Nighthawk while introducing the F-22 Raptor; all while deploying more than 38,000 Total Force Airmen to support operations worldwide.

Our staff launched two iterations of an all-new military exchange program called Operation Southern Partner while accomplishing hundreds of humanitarian and medical operations -- each year helping more than 100,000 patients in Latin America and the Caribbean -- and executing dozens of military exercises to help sharpen our skills while increasing partner nation military capabilities.

In addition, we opened the Air Force's newest Falconer Air and Space Operations Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, enabling staff there to work together with joint forces and the Colombian military to secure the release of three American hostages who had been held for more than five years.

This isn't a list of my accomplishments -- it's yours. The character and dedication of our men and women have made all of these events possible. Throughout my career, I've watched with great admiration as Airmen have changed the course of history through both individual effort and teamwork. From the Cold War to the post-9/11 world we live in, America's Airmen have always been on the front lines and it's been a privilege to have been part of it.

While the men and women in uniform are the secret weapons behind mission success, the importance of our families can never be overstated. While Airmen worry about the next air tasking order, the Air Force family ensures our spirits are high and the home fires remain alight. A 'thank you' doesn't fully express my gratitude; our service is possible only through your sacrifices.

As Kathleen and I begin a new chapter in our lives, I'm confident in the future of our nation and the Air Force. Our Airmen are capable, fearless and forge the most potent force in the world. Thank you for your service and your sacrifices. May God bless and protect you wherever you may serve.

Godspeed and all the best.... -Lt. Gen. Norm Seip