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Old 06-23-2011, 05:40 AM   #1  
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Talking Spoof: 187th Electronic Fighter Wing

COL Jeff Smiley recently announced his retirement as commander of the 187 FW of the Alabama ANG. His announcement letter, an inspiring summation of his career and his admiration for the Wing, has been circulating on the internet.

Some wag has been circulating a modified version of Smiley's letter, in the form of a mythical retirement letter sent by a mythical 187FW commander in the year 2050. Absolutely nothing against Jeff Smiley, who I'm sure has been a first-class officer; the spoof letter is meant, I gather, as an indicator of what might be the future for the fighter force in the USAF.

Thought this might be of general interest:

Dear Wing Members, 21 Jun 2051

Today, I step aside as the Commander and Chief Programmer of the 187th Electronic Fighter Wing. It has been my honor to command such an outstanding Wing for over five years.

I was informed this past Saturday my father passed away. My father, like yours, had a profound impact on me, my career and outlook on life. He was born and raised in the pre-PC, pre-Nintendo era. By the time he passed away, he had owned five personal computers and two gaming systems, including both X-Box and PlayStation III. He was an early enthusiast of video gaming, achieving high scores in the first pioneering games (PacMan and Space Invaders), first-person shooters (Medal of Honor I-IV), and Flight Simulator. I admired him greatly and I will forever be in his debt for the superb example he set for me.

I want to thank my wife, my two daughters, and all of my electronic buddies for their unconditional support.

I am indebted to Maj Gen John White (former AL ANG-Electronic Fighter/CC) and Maj Gen P. D. Brown (current AL ANG-EF/CC) for their support. You were both great flight-console leads and it was very much appreciated.

I want to thank my Vice Commander, my office staff, and the Group Commanders for your loyalty and the superb job you have done.

I had only three goals in my career and that was to serve my country, fly electronic flight consoles, and attain a national championship score in Flight Simulator X. Wearing the uniform (jeans and “Electronic Fighter Pilot” t-shirt) for 30 years and seven months straight exceeded those expectations. Being a Wing Commander and Chief Programmer was never part of the plan, but a cherished good deal. I will miss commanding this Wing, working with the best military programmers in the Air Force, and flying this kickass console, but I still consider myself one of the most blessed people in the combat gaming world.

Our Air Force and the Air National Guard have changed over the past 25 years, and we have led that change. Gone are the days of the manned fighter. Gone are the days when manned-fighter pilots ruled the US Air Force and we electronic warriors were relegated to second-class status. The new era began with the Predator and Reaper (remember those museum pieces?), progressed to the first air-to-air combat UAVs in the 2010s, and then led to our current T-Rex and Piranha Max II fighters. We are truly blessed to have been in the right place, at the right time, with the right gaming skills, to become the new elite of the US Air Force.

With that in mind, I kept thinking about three things; mission performance, unit morale, and the future of this outstanding Wing. Every single decision I made was always about those three sacred things.

The future for this Wing is the Apple/Sony Sabre Cat computer, a program worth $35 billion dollars directly affecting our community over the life of the system, and preserving over 30 full time and 40 guardsmen jobs. It was my number one job to ensure we did everything possible to realize that future by being a highly successful Wing that routinely exceeded expectations. In other words, I had to be results driven. I woke up most mornings with one thought; “What can I do today to help us get the results we need to gain the Sabre Cat? What programming breakthroughs can we make under contractor leadership to ensure datalink reliability, higher bandwidth, and significantly fewer software errors?”

Maintaining high morale was certainly one those things. I am an avid military history reader. Brig Gen Ran Ronan, who is considered the finest fighter squadron commander in the history of the Israeli Electronic Air Force, once said, “If you want high morale scores lots of kills, attain a high score, and give your pilots frequent bathroom breaks.” That was simply his way of saying people are happiest when they are accomplishing their mission at a world-class level.

The mission results and morale of the 187th Electronic Fighter Wing are indisputable. This is a world class organization. The Wing just recently earned an Outstanding Gamers rating on the Phase I Operational Electronic Readiness Inspection (ORI), the only OG rating awarded by Electronic Air Combat Command in 2010 and only the seventh over the past decade. To earn an OG rating and be recognized as “the standard bearer” in EACC is just amazing. I am very proud of all of you.

As I write this, the 187th Electronic Fighter Wing is recognized as one of the premier units in the Air National Guard and United States Air Force.

Our Wing’s most recent major inspection record speaks volumes:
1. EACC Inspector General Phase I ORI – Outstanding (“these are some motivated gamers”)
2. 9TH Air Force Stan Eval Inspection – Outstanding (“they even sleep with their joysticks”)
3. Communications Security Inspection – Outstanding (“the dudes don’t talk much”)
4. Health Services Inspection – Excellent (“good move switching to Diet Coke!”)

Just last month, we received the National Guard Association of the United States Distinguished Electronic Flying Unit Plaque for 2010, one of four Wings in the Air National Guard so recognized out of 88.

These results were no accident. It was because of a lot of hard work by everyone. I have spoken to Wing members on numerous occasions about the word we pilots always use in action, “kickass.” “Kickass” means you mastered the console and nailed the enemy, and attained a top score. I stand in awe of each of you “kickass” members of the 187th Electronic Fighter Wing. Your record is impeccable. There is so much more to a Wing than just flying the console; the headquarters staff, pay and personnel clerks, security forces, software engineers, internet assurance pros, electronic systems managers, uninterruptible power supply techs, joystick maintainers, video screen experts, computer repair shops, UCAS flight line maintenance, and the base CE ground crews that cut the grass, stock the pilots’ fridge with munchies and soft drinks, and keep the base looking pristine. The entire Wing gets an A+ and I see great things in your future. Remember every time you see a jet take-off; tell yourself “wow, that’s awesome!”, because it takes all of us to make that take-off happen.

I have spent my entire 53 year life in the military either as a dependent, active, guard, or reserve member. My father operated simulators during his Air Force career and I vividly remember as a young boy going to operations, flying the simulators, and the wild simulator-maintainer parties. My favorite movies growing up were War Games, the Matrix, Hackers, and Tron II. My favorite scene in War Games was when Matthew Broderick prevented a nuclear war through his deft commands at an early-model IBM 3000 console. As a young teenager, I would hang out at the Creech AB gaming arcade and listen to the conversations. As soon as I figured out who were the young UAV pilots, I would wait to see if they needed an extra team member. If so, I would ask to play, and for the next four to five hours listened as they talked about their emotions and the excitement that awaited them in the virtual skies over Iraq and Afghanistan. I thought they could do no wrong! My first conscious thought was to become an American electronic fighter pilot. I was mesmerized by the UAV consoles. A wraparound panoramic display screen, the console with all dials and switches, full-color HD video feed from the UAV, dropping things and watching them blow up. An empty console was always an invitation to come and visit and compare joystick techniques. I scored 10,000 points in Air-to-Air III on my sixteenth birthday. What is a great job description for an electronic fighter pilot? Merge on video with an enemy jet fighter, the pilot on the other side straining hard at his console is the very best that other country has to offer, and someone’s UAV is not coming back, leaving something to think about both for the winning pilot and the losing pilot when they go home that night. Is that a great job or what?

My time is up and I leave with many fond memories. I did my very best. I will look up with great envy and admiration as the next generation takes their turn. I will pinch and remind myself that I was once one of you. Go get em’ Tiger, you own the electrons!

I salute and thank every member of the 187th Electronic Fighter Wing for all you have done for our country but most importantly for your friendship. We will see each other again, both remotely in internet combat games, and in person at our Wing gaming center.

Justin Snitzer, Colonel, AL ANG
Commander, 187th Electronic Fighter Wing
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Old 06-27-2011, 12:06 PM   #2  
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Wasn't this the guy who was found to have used F-16s to make personal trips?
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Old 06-27-2011, 01:32 PM   #3  
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Well, that's another 3 minutes of my life that I'll never get back.
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Old 06-27-2011, 03:09 PM   #4  
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Originally Posted by finedavefine View Post
Well, that's another 3 minutes of my life that I'll never get back.
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Old 06-27-2011, 03:51 PM   #5  
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Old 06-27-2011, 03:57 PM   #6  
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Originally Posted by GunnF16 View Post

Suckers, I quit reading after the first paragraph. Completely stupid.
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Old 06-28-2011, 12:40 PM   #7  
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Originally Posted by Flameout View Post
Dear Wing Members, 21 Jun 2051

Today, I step aside...

...Just last month, we received the National Guard Association of the United States Distinguished Electronic Flying Unit Plaque for 2010...
2051 is not a month after 2010.

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