Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command: Thank you all very much.
Congratulations, I guess that’s the first thing, on being selected to win the Omaha Trophy. I think you’ve had a lot of success over the last short period of time. The Moorman Award [U.S. Air Force Gen. Thomas S. Moorman, Jr. Award], the Herres Award [U.S. Air Force Gen. Robert T. Herres Award], all recognizing spectacular accomplishments in this wing today, we are going to recognize you today with the Omaha trophy.
From a USSTRATCOM perspective, from your operational commander’s perspective, there’s not a much bigger award that you can get, and it’s an award for global operations. And if you think about this wing, there’s no more global operational capability in the United States Air Force than you find in this wing. Far north at Thule Air Base, Greenland, south across the entire United States; spread out all over the world, we deploy into harm’s way out of this wing.
And if you think about the story of this wing, you can’t help but mention the tragedy of the last couple of weeks where we lost U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Austin Bieren. That is a hard thing for any unit to take, but it’s what we find when we do the business that we do. And the fact that he was in Syria is kind of an interesting, sad piece of that puzzle, because he was away from home, away from family. But it also allows us to tell his story, and I hope you all remember that when you tell his story, you tell our story as well. You tell the story of the men and women of this wing.
Because I can tell you, I got surprised at a press event last Friday in Washington, D.C., where I gave a 30-minute speech and then I had 30 minutes of question and answer. It was televised. And as the USSTRATCOM commander I get a lot of questions about nuclear weapons, a lot of questions. But one question came from the back, and it was a surprise question. He said, so General, I see you just lost a young staff sergeant in Syria. What was a space guy doing in Syria? That was the question and the answer was what space guys do everywhere. Because everywhere we’re in combat, everywhere we’re in the fight today, you’ll find space people embedded with us. That’s just the nature of what we do. And if you look at this wing, we are embedded globally everywhere we go. You provide the critical space surveillance that we need to enable all of our space missions. You provide the critical ground based missile warning piece that provides warning to our nation. You provide the critical space control mission. And those missions can’t be done, as beautiful as this place is and as wonderful as it is to be here, the mission can’t be done from here. They have to be done where the work has to be done, and that’s all around this planet.
So there is no more global organization in the world than the 21st Space Wing. And it’s my honor today to be here with the city of Omaha, represented by Mr. Bay who will come up here shortly and present your wing with the trophy.
Let me just talk about, talk about the [Strategic Command] Consultation Committee starting this award in 1971. SAC [Strategic Air Command] has been around a long time. SAC is no more. If you want to find SAC you need to go to Barksdale and look at Global Strike Command because that’s the legacy of SAC.
But STRATCOM has a legacy of providing peace through now multiple domains. Space, cyber, nukes, global strike, electronic warfare. All across the globe. Missile defense. And this wing enables all those missions. All of those missions are enabled by this wing.
I hope you take great pride. I know the city of Omaha takes great pride in supporting what was Strategic Air Command, is now U.S. Strategic Command.
You see living here in Colorado Springs what the community can do for you. The city of Omaha does those kinds of things for us as well. And one of the amazing things they do, they award the Omaha Trophy with USSTRATCOM. And they send a very distinguished leader of the community from Omaha here to present the trophy to you today. So I hope you take great pride in the fact that not only are you receiving it from the Commander of USSTRATCOM, but you’re receiving it from the city of Omaha. It is called the Omaha Trophy.
So congratulations on the accomplishments of last year. I ask you not to sit on your laurels. I ask you to realize that we’re still involved in the fight today and the world seems even nastier today than it did a week ago.
Watch what’s happened in Syria just two days ago. A war that’s brought down so many people. That’s where [Staff] Sgt. Bieren was not too long ago, trying to somehow bring order out of chaos while he was there, with the capabilities he could bring to fight on the battlefield. So remember [Staff] Sgt. Bieren as you take great pride in this award because it’s his award as much as yours because he was a member of this wing a long time.
So congratulations. You should celebrate. But when we hand you the trophy I hope you just don’t sit on your tails. I hope you make some noise because it is well deserved and you should be proud.