As our nation brings to a close its military presence in Afghanistan that began when I was a captain, I’m confident that many of you — like me — are reflecting on our personal Service in Afghanistan the last two decades.
Many of you have served in Afghanistan alongside our partners since I returned from my most-recent deployment there in 2005. Some of you have confided in me this week that you are experiencing a wide array of emotions. These reflections and emotions are normal and I encourage you to share your memories and your experiences from that duty asked of us by our nation with your family, friends, and teammates. Continue to be proud of your Service. Your service — our service — in Afghanistan was valuable and it was honorable. Keep in your heart the Gold Star Families of our comrades who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Service to our nation’s calling.
My mind also immediately goes to the members of our nation’s military executing and securing safe and rapid evacuation operations in Afghanistan as I write this e-mail. I am proud of their performance in those duties under what are certainly challenging circumstances. As members of the U.S. Department of Defense they, like us, will continue to support the U.S. Department of State in evacuating U.S. personnel and other individuals from Afghanistan.
As an unapologetic Airman and advocate for Airpower, I am also very proud of our Test Community’s role in providing the capabilities being employed in Afghan evacuation operations. Our role in fielding capabilities being employed by C-17 and C-130 aircrews — U.S. and Coalition alike — yesterday, today, and tomorrow, is one we can be proud of in the extreme. Our relentless focus on the Warfighter is clearly on display to the world with every arrival to and departure from Kabul International Airport.
As always, remain engaged consumers of *information* about all current events from multiple authoritative sources and resist the appeal of in-person and virtual echo chambers that can be very seductive and are too often dangerous.
Let me also take this opportunity to remind you that there are two enduring forums that you are invited to where I relish your questions and your dialog on the topics of your choice.
First, I host a weekly virtual Town Hall each and every (duty day) Friday at 1300 PT. You can access it via the Edwards AFB — Live Stream feed at www.edwards.af.mil from most devices — occasionally the AFNet domain blocks it, but my personal devices are 100 percent successful in getting to the Live Stream. We always have time for questions from viewers. This virtual Town Hall is a fantastic forum for me to learn what’s on your mind and for you to get answers direct from the source. If you miss it live, you can watch it after the fact from the same web location.
The 412th TW also holds an in-person sensing sessions — titled “Hard Talks” — starting at 3 p.m. every (duty day), Thursday at the Chapel 1 Annex. The Chapel 1 Annex can hold at least a dozen or so people even at HPCON-Bravo and HPCON-Charlie. Hard Talks are always led by an Installation Senior Leader and continue to be a safe place/space for you to have emotionally charged conversations; ensuring Installation Senior Leadership hear your perspective. This forum is especially valuable on challenging topics — and these are often uncomfortable conversations; that’s why they’re titled “Hard Talks”. We strive to keep the conversations not attributional, emphasizing the forum as a great place to get something off your chest and learn from others while they do the same. If you’d like more details about Hard Talks or to request a reserved seat, please contact Chaplain Capt. Jay Clark via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Lastly, if you or one of your wingman might benefit from time with a member of a Helping Agency, please — PLEASE — reach out to any of them, at any time, https://www.edwards.af.mil/About/Helping-Agencies-Directory/ . Remember, it’s OK to admit that you’re not OK. I have. And it made all the difference in the world.
Brig. Gen. Matthew W. Higer