Defender Family,

At the end of August, I had the opportunity to share my thoughts on the current threat landscape and the future direction for the career field at the 2023 SF Worldwide Symposium. We thank all involved for supporting, briefing, attending, and engaging in the Worldwide. It was a tremendous success because of their contributions.

Our Department of the Air Force leadership has been talking a lot about strategic competition lately. In fact, at the Air Force Association Air, Space & Cyber Conference in September, Air Force leadership spoke extensively about the topic and how it will guide our future efforts.

Strategic competition is our primary national security concern with China identified as the primary pacing challenge.  (I would encourage you to listen to the Secretary of the Air Force’s comments at the conference…link here: https://www.airandspaceforces.com/video-kendall-on-the-state-of-the-forces-at-afas-air-space-cyber-21/) Rapid technological advancement is providing us unique opportunities but our adversaries are striving to gain advantage through their technological investments as well. Therefore, we must change the way we fight to stay efficient and competitive.

Our investments must catch up with the need to create the Air Force and Space Force of the future. We must address our critical capability gaps today to minimize the risk to future warfighters. Now is the time to transform for the future as investment in crucial air and space power capabilities are critical to national security…our career field is vested in this change.

The need to evolve remains at the forefront of our Career Field’s and Department of the Air Force’s priorities as the fight of today is different from the fight of yesterday and will continue to transform well into tomorrow.  Our adversaries’ methodologies and locations are different - what isn't different is the need for a strong Base Defense focus. Our adversaries continue to invest in ways to disrupt operations by investing in methods to attack air and space bases along with other high value targets.  We must define a way to respond to these threats…in such, we must prepare for great power competition highlighted by our pacing challenge and focus on the principal of Base Defense and enhancing that capability by engaging across the Joint Force and our partner nations.

For these reasons, I am proud to highlight the work on this new chapter in our career field’s history: a renewed focus on the base defense skillset.  During the Worldwide, we used this forum to highlight efforts to reevaluate policies, procedures, and training to remain proficient and ready to protect, defend, and fight!  If you or your Defenders have not seen it, our team recorded a briefing I provided on our history and how our heritage informs our future with key themes to give a peek into where we are headed - https://www.dvidshub.net/video/895722/2023-security-forces-worldwide-symposium

As you all well know, to be successful now and in the future, we need to reinforce our Defender mindset and culture, understand Base Defense, and be able to identify, advocate for, and resource the capabilities we need to win.

The Joint definition of Base Defense is, “The local military measures, both normal and emergency, required to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of enemy attacks on, or sabotage of, a base to ensure the maximum capacity of its facilities is available to United States forces.” Defenders have a lot of responsibilities on their plates, but at the end of the day, they protect, defend, and fight in an increasingly challenging, multi-domain environment. Our Defenders conduct base defense to assure US Air and Space power projection for the joint force, allies and partners.

In a recent article by Air & Space Force Magazine, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Bass stated, “History has shown that when standards erode, military capabilities and readiness begin to decline. We’ve got to always police ourselves up to make sure that we remember that we are part of a profession of arms and that we are holding ourselves to a higher standard than an everyday American.” CMSgt Gallagher and I have taken on the mantel of specifically looking at standards as a part of our heritage and future. Specifically, the beret is a symbol of achievement and recognition. It is a trademark that quickly identifies Defenders apart from other Airmen or Guardians, and represents a professional and specialized force that is entrusted with Defending the installation. There is a time and place for us to wear our beret with pride and a time and place where field hats/caps and cold weather gear are more appropriate.  We owe the career field guidance on not only Beret wear, but also patches on armor, and standards of uniform appearance in general.  The focus on standards goes beyond appearance; it unifies us in a common identity and reinforces the importance of attention to detail which will be vital for our effectiveness in the future fight.  As Defenders we should strive to hold not only ourselves but our peers to a high standard in all that we do.  Official guidance on will be provided in the very near future and incorporated into appropriate publications.

My ask of you is to continue concentrating on Base Defense. We will continue to develop as a career field, always improving our fighting position and striving to be better than the day before.  Changes are coming. I will continue to keep you informed on our progress for the career field and how we can continue to best support Defenders.

Grazie…Tank
THOMAS P. SHERMAN, Brig Gen, USAF
Director of Security Forces

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