Letter from the President – Winter 2020

AFHF President Christopher D. “Chris” Miller

Dear Members,

This turbulent year continues to bring winds of change—from the predictable arrival of winter, to new initiatives by leaders of the Air and Space Forces, to the recent, remarkable quadrennial election and both resurgent cases and hopeful news associated with the novel coronavirus.  Amid all of this, your Foundation marked a very positive cycle as you—our members—responded to the recent election magnificently!

Results of the vote were unambiguous and enthusiastic as you voted en masse for a new group of officers to join our Board of Directors. They are:

Major General Paul T. “PJ” Johnson, USAF (Ret)

Major General John L. Barry, USAF (Ret) – (Previously appointed)

Ms. Jonna Doolittle Hoppes (Returning board member)

Lt Joseph Burke, USAFR (Ret)

On behalf of members and Board alike, I welcome them to the exciting work the Foundation will be doing over the next year as we undertake to help the Department of the Air Force celebrate three quarters of a century of air and space power.   These new Board members each have their own demanding professional endeavors, and the additional gift of time and energy they have volunteered to share with AFHF is laudable.  I join all of you in saying “thanks” to each of them!

On the nuts-and-bolts front, you approved two changes to our bylaws. The first item, driven by pandemic impacts on travel and gatherings, extended normal Board member term limits to allow for continuity through these challenging circumstances. Accordingly, Board members may now continue to serve on an extended basis when extraordinary conditions make it advisable, with notification to members, beyond normal term limits. Secondly, you approved a change permitting (but not requiring) the currently conjoined Chairman and President positions to be filled independently.  When separate, the Chairman will guide the Board in charting the Foundation’s mission and vision and represent the Foundation as appropriate, and the President will focus on the mission requirements of the Foundation, orchestrating the Board’s work and directing the staff as necessary.  The revised bylaws provide further detail.

These changes will significantly add to the Foundation’s flexibility and vitality.

In reviewing of our membership programs, we noted that Life Members – some 275 strong – have not recently received personal recognition for their commendable commitment to the Foundation’s work.  Accordingly, our Executive Director led design and production of an attractive credit-card style Life Member card.  Though it is a small token, feedback from the recipients has been very favorable.  Should you have other ideas on how we can recognize members’ support, please pass them on.

As always, Air Power History editor Richard Wolf has assembled a very thoughtful reflection this quarter on the ways that airpower has made a difference, not just in combat but in innovation to help the United States solve wickedly difficult problems.  His faithful work complements steady gains in AFHF’s electronic outreach—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, our daily e-mail, and archived journal issues—and we are increasingly focused on charting a path to wider and even more engaging electronic ways to inform the next generation of Airmen and historians.  More to follow on this.

Elsewhere in this issue, you will see a notice of a book project specifically designed to contribute to the Air Force’s upcoming 75th anniversary celebration.  Tentatively entitled “75 Great Airmen,” it will recount the stories of uniformed Airmen, some highly decorated, some of national stature, and some who were just truly exemplary in serving our nation somehow.  This effort is picking up speed quickly, but we are still soliciting suggestions for names of Airmen who should be included.  The final list of 75 will be selected by a committee that includes a former Chief of Staff, USAF and a number of distinguished air power leaders and thinkers.   For more details and to submit suggestions, please go to https://www.afhistory.org/75-great-airmen.   

Just as soon as we believe we can safely conduct Foundation events in person, we will begin rebuilding our calendar.   In the meantime, we are working to organize a webcast conversation with noted historians early next year, in place of an in-person meeting.  We will keep you informed.

In my last message, I noted the need for AFHF to be introspective, forward-looking, and bold.  Since then, Air Force Chief of Staff General C.Q. Brown has said very publicly and explicitly that the Air Force must “Accelerate Change or Lose”—and his counterpart, Chief of Space Operations Jay Raymond, has made it clear the new Space Force must also “innovate and outpace our adversaries, [and] build the Space Force as a digital service from the ground up.”  These are powerful, demanding words for the nation’s air and space professionals.  The Foundation should take them equally seriously, continuing to expertly document air and space power history and acting boldly to innovate and accelerate the way we engage, inform, and serve both our members and the broader community of those interested in national security. 

Now is a time to pitch in; I earnestly welcome your ideas to president@afhistory.org.  Thanks for your continued support, and every good wish as the holidays draw near.

With best regards,

 

Christopher D. Miller

Lieutenant General, USAF (Ret)

President and Chairman of the Board