SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill --
Serving in the military, it is often easy to forget that we are one small component of the instruments of national power. Many of us have spent years of our lives providing combat power or aiding in its projection in the Middle East and other remote parts of the globe. Sure, we read the joint doctrine or have heard the acronym DIME before, but we often read it, whether consciously or subconsciously, as DIME. After all, Joint Publication 1, “Doctrine for the Armed Services of the United States,” articulates in Chapter 1 that our nation wages war utilizing all instruments of national power: diplomatic, informational, military, and economic. But again, the statement opens with “how we wage war,” not how we wage peace or, more importantly, how we wage competition.
In an era where our global competitors operate in a state of gray zone conflict, it’s important to remember the close relationship that often exists between the military and diplomatic instruments of national power. Being in the 54th Airlift Squadron at Scott AFB for the past 18 months has made that point more salient for me than ever. The “Blue and White” C-40Cs of the 932nd Operations Group provide the military airlift which enables American diplomats safe and secure access for missions across the globe. This small Total Force Association operations group supported by Scott AFB delivers over 50 percent of all official congressional travel worldwide. When you read in the news about U.S. Rep. Mark Takano leading a bipartisan congressional delegation to Taiwan to affirm U.S. support in the face of Chinese aggression, it was a Scott C-40C crew providing the means of travel. Or Sens. Ben Cardin and Roger Wicker leading a congressional delegation from the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to bolster partnerships with our allies in Eastern and Central Europe, it was Scott-based Airmen making it happen. The fact of the matter is, without the engagement and negotiations of our civilian leaders, the military would not have the relationships, access, or basing around the globe to provide the forward presence to deter our enemies.
I write all this while on a House Foreign Affairs Committee mission amidst a state of high international tensions. Another separate C-40C mission administratively-supported, medically-supported, communications-enabled, secured, fueled, maintained, controlled and launched from a small base in Middle America. While the C-40C and both operational support airlift and executive airlift in general can often be written off, let us not forget that our C-40Cs and a few thousand Airmen are often at the intersection of the diplomatic and military instruments of national power.