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Air Force Chief Sounds Off as Service Birthday Approaches

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2004 – The threat of terrorism is greater than any threat this nation has ever faced, Air Force Chief of Staff John P. Jumper said. And he believes today's airmen are up to the challenge.

The threat of terrorism is "greater than Nazism, greater than communism," Jumper said in a recent interview with American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon channel. "This threat that we have of terrorist zealots is the most dangerous because these are people who care nothing about life. They care nothing about our lives, for sure, and they care nothing about their own lives."

But, today's airmen make up the best Air Force the world has ever seen, and they are the best equipped to battle this threat, Jumper said. As his service prepares to celebrate its 57th anniversary as an independent military service Sept. 18, Jumper spoke about what makes the U.S. Air Force so mighty.

The service is leveraging technology in new and exciting ways. Specifically, the Air Force is making leaps and bounds in leveraging space technology. It is also working with the other services in areas unheard of just a decade ago.

The general said surveillance and network capabilities were showcased in Operation Iraqi Freedom. During a dust storm while the main fighting was still going on last year, military leaders saw the Air Force's ability to track Iraqi forces as they tried to send reinforcements to ground forces outside of Baghdad.

He said the military services aren't operating as jointly as well as they hope to be, but they've come a long way. "It's in much more of a cooperative spirit than it was even in (1990's Operation) Desert Storm," he said.

Jumper recalled how air-tasking orders had to be flown from the Air Force out to Navy carriers every day during Desert Storm. "We didn't even have the simple communication that it would take to transmit the air-tasking orders out to the carriers by radio or telephone," he said.

But for all the advancements in technology and doctrine, the thing that makes the Air Force -- and all the U.S. military services -- strong is the people who raise their right hand and commit themselves to a cause greater than themselves, he said.

In a message directed to airmen everywhere, Jumper said they should be proud when they look in the mirror every morning.

"You are the greatest airmen on our planet," he said. "You've earned the respect of everybody throughout the world. Saddam Hussein buried his airplanes in the sand rather than come up and face the air power of the United States of America."

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Gen. John P. Jumper

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