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Changing times equal training time

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- It's been said before that: "The only real constant is change."

Keeping up with change is one reason why we heartily emphasize training and exercises. But please don't underestimate the impact that practicing has on your ability to carry out our missions.

Right now, our Air Force has about 33,000 Airmen deployed around the globe, with more than 26,000 Airmen directly involved in the Global War on Terror. Being properly trained goes hand in glove with the Air Force's priority of taking care of its people. What better way to take care of you than to ensure you're ready to do whatever our Nation asks? No doubt, you are definitely our most valuable "weapons" in fighting the global War on Terror and preparing for future threats. It's my sacred duty as your commander to make certain you are the best you can be...and from what I've seen nobody does it better than the Sharks.

I'm working with your chains of command to leave no stones unturned as we strive to get you to the point of physical, mental, fiscal and moral fitness as we enter into what will surely be another very demanding year for our Air Force family.

We need to be technically and tactically proficient in both our daily jobs and war-fighting capabilities. This week, you could be a finance clerk submitting pay vouchers; in a few months, you could be carrying an M-16 and guarding an ammunition depot somewhere in Iraq.

The one sure tool I know to ensure you are ready is realistic and routine training. It's the very least we can do for you.

Sometimes, there's a sense that Airmen aren't really in the heat of the fight and therefore only perform a supporting role in our combat theaters around the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just look to Air Force Reservist Senior Airman Diane Lopes, of the 920th Rescue Wing.

Airman Lopes, who had the honor of sitting with First Lady Laura Bush during the President's State of the Union speech last week, was awarded a Purple Heart last September after a mortar landed less than 30 feet away from her at Kirkuk Air Base, Iraq.
A full-time Tampa police officer just last March, Airman Lopes had only been in her unit for three weeks when she was called to duty. She is currently recovering from extensive injuries and the initial medical attention she got at the scene may have saved her life.

Her personal prognosis is good and she expects to come back to work ...both with the Tampa police and the 920th. Speaking about her experiences, she said this: "It's not going to keep me from doing my job.

That is a warrior's mentality and I see it among many of you, too. So, keep working hard and keep making realistic training a routine part of what you do. Go Sharks!