DAYTON OHIO 04-29-08


This speech as given before 120th Air Force Cadets along with Air Force Officers Of Detachment 643.

Followed 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 tremendous.
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.

Good 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… 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.
This memorial 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 “Hot Gates”…Thermopylae….”Molon 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 courage, 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 Warriors. 

Without 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 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 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.

This little 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.

I will 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 population”.

The opposite 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!

Thank you!