AIR FORCE ROTC
DAYTON OHIO 04-29-08
This speech as given before 120th Air Force Cadets along with Air Force Officers Of Detachment 643.
by 3 hours of Close Quarter Combat Basic Skills. The energy and
enthusiasm from the 120 plus members of the United States Air Force was
This was concluded with the United State Air Force presentation of
Certificates of Thanks and Air Force Coins to All the Gi Yu Dojo
Instructors and Sensei Sandhu.
The following excerpts are from Sensei Sukh Sandhu’s speech.
afternoon. First and foremost, I would like to thank Colonel
Ronald Joseph, Major Eric Feil, Captain Ricardo Diaz, Captain Robert
Folks, and Captain David Cathell for inviting me here today. I must
thank all of you as well, not only for allowing me to be here, but more
importantly for what you have all signed up for…..to protect
this vast, diverse GREAT country of ours….The United States of
America! Your dedication, your selflessness, your desire to
protect your fellow citizens are above all else the highest of virtues!
Today, I was
asked by your commander to discuss
“leadership”….What an awesome word…a word
with such deep meaning. The definition of Leadership according to
the 2nd College Edition of The American Heritage Dictionary 1976 (sorry
I could not find a more recent copy) is as follows:
‘The position or office of a leader----The capacity or ability to lead”
I believe the second definition is most relative to being a “true” leader.
I will start by reciting a historical line written by Herodotus from his writings The Histories.
still stands with these two words from a proud warrior culture dating
back to 480 BC by a mighty Spartan Warrior King at a place called the
Labe”…..These 2 words were the response by the Great King
Leonidas to the Persian King Xerxes when he demanded the Spartans lay
down their weapons and bow to him….”Come Get them”
what conviction, and more importantly what a true leader who lead by
example and gave the ultimate sacrifice…him self.
Much like one day what your country may ask of you.
You have often
heard the phrase; it is the journey, not the destination that is
important. I can not tell you how profound and true that
statement is. The yearly, monthly, weekly and daily challenges
are what make you a leader. That continuous forging of your body,
your mind your spirit…is what creates this country’s
greatest military warriors. Regardless of if you will be in the
“thick” of the battle or you will be responsible for the
logistical, intelligence, or financial support. You all
contribute to the overall success of every mission. But, you must
believe you are a warrior, you must strive to be better today than you
were yesterday. Constantly strengthening your body, educating
your mind and polishing your spirit! You are Americas Greatest
pressure on a daily basis, a warrior will become lethargic… and
will not grow beyond what he or she feels is the
standard….easy. A true warrior tries to better themselves
with that pressure to stay physically honed, mentally cunning and
spiritually enlightened. Challenges are what mold us. Challenges
are what have made every one of us strive to be better human
beings…productive members of our communities. This is why
this country is the greatest place on the planet! With out
challenges..life would be boring…would you not agree. The
“challenge” is a true warrior’s forge.
Respect as a
leader can not be demanded, it must be earned. Earned by walking
through the forge every day and humbling yourself before those who have
already stepped ahead of you and then learning from them. Never
ask anyone to do something you yourself have not already done or would
not be willing to do. That will earn you respect you could not
buy with all the money in the world! A quote form the book Chosen
Soldier by Dick Couch X-Navy Seal…”Lt. Colonel Richard
Carswell (former company commander in charge of the Special Forces
officer training Phase put it). “We must find and train warriors
who can enter an inhospitable, politically unstable situation and
successfully navigate in a foreign culture. They must use all
their intellect and cunning to accomplish the mission with out
compromising the ethical or moral standards of an American
warrior”. That is you. This is relevant for everyone
of you. Someday you may be a Special Ops warrior through your
career in the Air Force. Times have changed
drastically…War has changed even more…This war on Terror
demands this type of ethics and intelligence, regardless of rank or
branch of military and civilian life.
I will tell
you an ancient story told by the Pima Indians..passed down for hundreds
of years. As best as I can recount this story it goes like
this…A coyote sees a turkey standing next to a pool of
water. The turkey is oblivious to the coyote’s presence and
the coyote thinks to himself…this will be easy. He sneaks
up on the unsuspecting turkey ..getting closer…getting
closer…then POUNCES! The coyote falls into the water all
the while trying to bite the turkey…with no avail..it is as the
turkey keeps escaping his biting jaws…with all the turmoil the
coyote dislodges a big boulder that falls on his back and pushes him
down…down.. deeper into the water. The coyote turns so the
boulder is now on his stomach and looks up…and as he falls
deeper into the water he sees at the very top the turkey sitting on a
tree branch ever so perplexed by this event taking place while he
overlooks the water! After all the prey the coyote attacked was
just the reflection of the turkey in the tree. What is the lesson
to be taught here? As is always in Pima Story telling..The lesson
is up to the listener to find for him or her self. I tell you
this story because I believe it directly correlates to being a great
leader. Do not be impetuous, greedy or make rash decisions.
A leader looks at all the data before making a decision and makes that
decision with utmost conviction that there is no better course of
action. And it usually is the best one, that is if the true
leader has attained and digested all the relevant data.
story of many years past is directly related to
“Observe..Orient..Decide..Act”. I would think you all
know this sequence of decision making. Colonel John Boyd USAF the 1950s
Air Force pilot who revolutionized fighter jet warfare and now every
branch of the armed services leadership classes study the “Boyd
Loop”. “Observe..Orient..Decide..Act”. This
refers to the ability for true leaders to make quick decisions, the
right decisions. They did not call him 40 second Boyd for
nothing. He practiced his loop sequence over and over to get that
nickname. The more you practice and challenge yourself, the more
you hone your skill set to quicken your thought process. This
forging of your self will create a terrific decision maker, a
courageous warrior, an admirable leader.
I hope I have
not strayed to much from our discussion here today, but I believe these
are some pieces of what leadership is, a dynamic active ever growing
entity that only strives to be better everyday.
Selflessness…thinking of the warrior next to you, the commander
leading you and most importantly the country that has given all of us
the freedom we as the human race deserve.
I will finish
this brief discussion on leadership with another story, written by
Stephen Pressfield in his book Gates of Fire. When a young Spartan was
asked by his superior “Have your instructors taught you why the
Spartans excuse without penalty the warrior who loses his helmet or
breastplate in battle, but punishes with loss of all citizenship rights
the man who discards his shield” The young Spartan replied
“They had” … “It is because a warrior carries
a helmet and breastplate for his own protection, but his shield is for
the safety of the whole line”!
You are America’s shield.
paraphrase a quote form a great firearms instructor, Mr. John Farnam.
“The presence of truly honorable men and women in any
civilization has always been small in comparison to the
of fear is love. Love is what helps a leader be successful.
YOU…my selfless leaders, my protectors, my heroes are those true
honored and loved souls. I thank each and every one of you for
what you have decided to pursue…lead by example…so
democracy and freedom may reign!