What a year!

In accordance with Chapter 3 of AFI 84-105, commercial reproduction of this emblem is NOT permitted without the permission of the proponent organizational/unit commander.

In accordance with Chapter 3 of AFI 84-105, commercial reproduction of this emblem is NOT permitted without the permission of the proponent organizational/unit commander.

RAMSTEIN AB, Germany -- It has been an incredible experience for me to lead the many wonderful and talented Airmen of USAFE. I remain honored to serve with you here in this exciting place during these remarkable times. There is no place my wife, Litha, or I would rather be.

During this past year, I completed 56 different trips to 19 different countries and saw great work done by Airmen around the theater and in two combat zones. Of the more than 150,000 miles I travelled, none were more important than the ones to see Airmen in their workplaces and living spaces. Being with Airmen is exciting and I want to make sure you continue to be as excited about our Air Force and its mission as I am.

I would be remiss if I didn't thank all USAFE Airmen, host nation employees, U.S. civilians and their families for the hard work and dedication in achieving our shared goals. I believe USAFE people enhanced the Air Force's credibility with our sister services and our Allies by the way we performed our mission and conducted our professional lives during the past year.

We made progress this year in advocating for the resources we need to accomplish our mission and to develop and take care of our Airmen and their families, like securing funding for more child care providers and improving our enlisted dormitories. We were aggressive in working with our Allies and coalition partners to win today's fight and reinvigorate and modernize for 21st Century excellence. For example, we deployed aircraft and people to support NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission and stood up the Heavy Airlift Wing at Papa, Hungary.

This last year was a tumultuous one for our Air Force, but through it all we persevered and have come out better as a service. While some of the miscues you have read about didn't occur in USAFE, it's important to safeguard against similar lapses in our command. We must learn from the experiences of others and rather than saying, "It couldn't happen here," we must resolve that "It will not happen here!"

No doubt we will have another busy year in 2009. We are a nation and Air Force at war and we will invariably face training, manpower and resources challenges based on fiscal and geopolitical constraints. These are indeed challenging times, and I would not pretend otherwise. My staff has been working very long hours, including some weekends, to identify all the factors that affect our ability to accomplish our mission. Sometimes it is easy to simply say, "we need more money" or "we need more people." Perhaps, but these are, at best, partial answers, and with constrained resources we must be absolutely certain where to put them. I believe our ongoing effort to identify causal factors will yield positive results.

In the interim, we have a mission to accomplish and Airmen to take care of with the resources available. It will require the best of our leadership and management skills. We have those in abundance. It will be difficult, but there is nothing else you would rather be doing!

I look forward to facing the challenges of 2009 with you!