|Transforming Our Air and Space Capabilities|
Transforming Our Air and Space Capabilities
Remarks to the Air Force Association National Convention luncheon, Washington, D.C., September 18, 2002 by Dr. James G. Roche, Secretary of the Air Force.
US Air Force Photo
First, let me say hello. I recognize that between the end of this whole thing and you only stand me, so I will try to make this mercifully brief. I would like to say thank you to some of my predecessors, Secretary (Robert C.) Seamans (Jr.), Secretary (John L.) McLucas, Secretary Whit Peters and Secretary Pete Aldridge. Thank you for being here. You make me feel like the PhD student who has to defend his thesis in front of people who know what they are talking about, which is usually what I don’t have to do. You make it very tough.
Thank you, Tom, for that gracious if incomplete introduction. For those of you who don’t know, Tom only told you what I do as a sideline. My real job, as many of you AFA aficionados realize is the holder of the Thomas McKee Chair of Pro Bono Public Speaking. I do believe that I am the only person he’s talked into speaking at more AFA events. There is only one person he’s done it more to, and that is the individual who is currently occupying the Air Force Association Chair in Oratorical Arts and Aircraft Designation, Gen. John Jumper.
I want to salute you and your great team at the Air Force Association for putting together a wonderful program this week. You’ve had a chance to discuss many of the issues we are working on in the Air Force today, to celebrate the achievements of our best and brightest and to admire the great rhetorical skills and taxonomic creativity of our chief of staff. What a guy. What a guy.
Now I have to be nice because we have a rule. He usually speaks first and if he takes a shot, then I shoot back. He was so nice yesterday that we are missing part of our thing. He really is the best and I am not kidding. He is the finest military officer I have ever met in my life. My only wish is that I could spend an evening listening to John Jumper and Arleigh Burke, the two great military leaders of my life.
Since he is a Texan and yesterday was the 140th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam or Sharpsburg, depending on which side you were on, I relish the thought that God saved him for our era and not that era because he would have been on the cavalry, and he would have probably had (Gen. Robert E.) Lee come all the way through Maryland. There never would have been the Annapolis I live in. And heaven only knows, we’d have a grey uniform for our Air Force instead of a blue uniform, because he is a superb military tactician as well as strategist.
It is a special delight for me to culminate this program on Sept. 18, the 55th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force. On this day in 1947, our first secretary, the late Senator Stuart Symington took the oath of office and began operation of the military department that would prove to the world, as the great visionaries of air power had predicted, that the Air Force could and would become a powerful fighting force in the service of a republic committed to liberty, commerce and human dignity.
I have the "New York Times" article here in my hand from that day, and it is fun because (Andrei Y.) Vishinsky had accused the Americans of seeking war. We were all warmongers. Here is one for you to test your history; people were very concerned about the defense of Trieste. Think about it. You haven’t heard about Trieste since the Kosovo War. But the part that was nice about the article was that, of course, the Army and the Army Air Corps separating into the U.S. Air Force was a peaceful, non-controversial event.
You should know that the Army disallowed a separate medical corps for the Air Force, disallowed a separate chaplain corps and certainly took control of the thousands and thousands of engineering troops. In fact, every one thought this will be worked out over time. It was interesting that the secretary of the Army, who was also sworn in on this day, as well as the secretary of War, that he made the following point. He said, "from these joint arrangements between the Army Air Corps, now to be the Air Force, and the Army, Secretary (Kenneth C.) Royall said he expected considerable economies. He recalled that he had testified before a congressional committee that such economies would surely result if a strong and capable secretary of defense were appointed.
Think about it. Referring to Mr. (James V.) Forrestal, he said, "We’ve got a strong secretary of defense so I anticipate there will be savings."
From the Berlin Airlift to the liberation of Afghanistan, air and space power has contributed to the security of our citizens and spread the promise of peace and freedom around the globe. It is truly my great honor to be here among you the active, Guard, Reserve and civilian men and women of the Air Force. Among the dedicated airmen who continue to serve in retirement and among those of you who make the delivery of air and space power your life’s work. All of you are airmen. You are airmen for life.
Our nation remains sovereign and free today as a result of your continued service, and as a product of the airmen who have gone before you. On this great day, please join me in saluting the birthday of the U.S. Air Force.
We are quickly approaching another historical milestone significant to airmen. On Dec. 17, we’ll kick off our year-long celebration and countdown to the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ achievement at Kitty Hawk. In the first 100 years of powered flight, airmen have redefined the way we fight our wars, revolutionized travel and commerce, pioneered the development of ground-breaking technologies and helped shape a world in which our nation’s safety and prosperity would be accompanied by breath-taking scientific and technical prowess. Powered flight is and will continue to be one of human kinds most significant accomplishments and if properly guided and nourished with the same sort of imagination and vision that characterized its creators, the second century of flight will further advance the peaceful and productive interactions of nations, continue to deter or destroy the threatening and tyrannical, and provide for the benefit of all mankind.
Throughout this week, along with the AFA, General Jumper, General (Robert) Foglesong, Chief (Master Sgt. of the Air Force Gerald) Murray and I have had the wonderful privilege of presenting the association’s annual awards to the outstanding airmen, crews, units and civilians whose accomplishments this year distinguished them from an incredibly talented group of peers. Their feats were as impressive as their motives were selfless. Please join me in saluting our teams and individuals, along with their families who demonstrated the highest commitment to duty, excellence and service in this past year. We congratulate all of you.
Often during our award program, as we speak of the strength of the competition and the accomplishments of every competitor considered, this year our salutations to the competitors have greater meaning, particularly given the broad sweep of heroic acts performed by our total force in the global war on terror. From combat operations on distant continents to defense over our own skies to the unsung daily efforts that guarantee the readiness, security, health and morale of our fighting force, I’ve been thoroughly and ceaselessly impressed with the professionalism and sense of excellence of the total force. Your ingenuity in the face of new missions and circumstances, your commitment to our Air Force values and your willingness to serve, despite the high personal costs associated with military service, label you as a generation for whom future generations will be equally grateful as we are for those who preceded us. You should all be very proud of what you have achieved and the legacy you will leave for those who will follow in your footsteps.
As we think of our own future, I thought each of you might be interested in how we are looking to reach out to the next generation, to interest them in the Air Force experience and to generate excitement among our airmen and those who follow our service. So we will be showing you four of our brand new advertisements. If you like them, I will tell you who is responsible. If you don’t like them, it is me. I would tell you that there are four in a row with a slight pause between each. I get enthusiastic and start jumping after the first one, you’ll miss some of the first lines of the second, third and fourth and of course we want you to check the designation on a certain airplane in the very last commercial. [video plays]
That’s rocking. Special thanks go to Gen. Don Cook and Bill Bodie, the Director of Air Force Communications. This is surprising each of them, so would they please stand and accept the applause of this audience for their superlative work?
I am told that the last one when played in THX in a theater, is really a "let’s roll" commercial, and it will be in a number of the theaters. I also found out that the young people, who were paid talent fees for that, said that if we could rent the parking garage for them, they would do it free.
I should also tell you that the young lady who goes up to adjust the antenna as the young girl, is the same Air Force airman you see at the end of the commercial. She looks two different ages, based on how she dressed. She did a wonderful job and that commercial will be done in Spanish as well. I think we are reaching out for the future airmen of this country.
A year ago, this convention was canceled due to the terrorist attack against our country. It was entirely appropriate for us to do so since we were engaged in determining how and when we would respond to this devastating attack. This year the convention theme, aptly named, The Global War on Terrorism – The Air Force Responds, offers us the opportunity to reflect on the contributions our service made and continues to make in its first major engagement of the 21st century.
Last week’s memorials and the volume of media reports on every conceivable aspect of the attacks, force many of us to relive the shock and horror of that terrible day. I don’t think John and I will ever forget the fact that we were standing in my office, our backs to a window, in a window, and we were in fact the intended target, our side of the Pentagon. We were so concerned with what was happening in New York, we never felt the fact that the building had been hit. It wasn’t until we went down to the operations center at General Foglesong’s request, and tuned into our very special intelligence systems – Fox News and CNN – that we knew what was happening. One of our colleagues who will go down in history as being famous, we just can’t remember his name, finally got up and cut the wires to the fire alarm that had been going off the whole time.
We recall our disbelief even as we watch the attacks repeatedly on videotape. These painful recollections, the loss of more than 3,000 innocent victims, remind us of the high cost of freedom and bring home the inescapable burdens of global leadership. The resulting campaign was and continues to be conducted on many fronts – diplomatic, financial, intelligence, investigative, law enforcement and military actions both at home and abroad. When our airmen were called upon to take the fight to the enemy, they responded with the same spirit and steadfast resolve that has characterized the history of our service. We deployed thousands of troops to the fight to expeditionary bases in parts of the world previously unfamiliar to most of us and to countries many of us could not pronounce, let along spell. We occupied or built bases for our coalition operations and for our sister services, many of them in remote and austere environments and many in the back yards of our former adversaries. We flew and continue to fly tens of thousands of strike reconnaissance and mobility sorties delivering precision, intelligence and global reach to our combatant commander.
As if to demonstrate that no task is too difficult for the airmen of America, in the midst of the demanding and expeditionary and combat operations, we delivered two and a half million humanitarian rations to the people of land-locked Afghanistan. We did what we had to do, despite the difficulties of waging a combined campaign in a land-locked nation. We fought and won the first phase of this campaign as a joint team and as John Jumper points out to me so often, we will never again fight alone. We will always fight as a joint team.
The effort continues. It will not abate until we are satisfied that the scourge of international terrorism is destroyed.
While the war on terror presents unprecedented challenges, the future has never been brighter for airmen. We are entering a new age of air and space power. There is now a growing consensus as a result of our successes in Iraq, the Balkans and Afghanistan that air and space capabilities can dramatically assist our joint forces to achieve victory swiftly and decisively regardless of distance or of terrain or of adversary. While we’ve been very successful in the past decade, our potential adversaries have come to accept our overwhelming military strength and as a result have grown increasingly less willing to engage our forces directly. We face a new reality. One in which our traditional defenses – deterrence and the protective barriers afforded by friendly neighbors and two large oceans may be of limited effect.
This new reality highlights the absolute necessity of transforming our air and space capabilities. Now, there has been quite a frenzy in the Pentagon in the recent past of that word "transformation" and as John and I like to point out, most briefings don’t make it to prime time these days if the "T" word is not referred to somewhere in the text. Nevertheless, we view transformation as one of our principle missions. By transformation, we mean to provide the strategies, systems, training and support required to affect the strategic environment at which we find ourselves – not for the century left behind, but for the century we are in. We need to develop doctrinal approaches appropriate for this new era and where necessary retool our approaches to organize and employ our forces. This is what (Secretary of Defense) Don Rumsfeld has charged us to do, and we are doing it.
We are in the business of global reconnaissance and strike, in my words, which include the deployment and sustainment of troops and systems. Our task is to focus our strategy, people and concepts of operations on staying number one in this business for many decades while bringing the compelling effect of air and space power to bear against terrorism and asymmetric attacks. The proposed budget we recently sent to OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense) balances a variety of priorities from personnel and readiness to training and logistics as well as transformation and modernization.
Today’s force in many ways is a transition force. Our legacy aircraft systems were built with specialized roles and they were very good. We have limited networking, limited all-weather delivery and limited stand off and our sensors are only partially integrated. Our deployments require large logistics tails and we currently employ stealth only at night. Further, too often space has been an after thought. The force that we are building, the reason John and I come to work every day, this force of the future will not be so limited. It will employ multi-mission systems with multi-spectral fused air and space sensors and robust all-weather weapons delivery with increased stand off capability.
We will deploy with reduced logistics tails. We will attack with improved range, payload, speed, maneuverability and precision. We will network these systems in ways that enable us to find, fix, track, target, engage and assess in timelines unimaginable just a few years ago. It is our goal to have consistent, persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and, once a decision to attack is made, we will attack instantaneously.
We are developing a range of systems that fulfill these objectives, from multi-mission command-and-control aircraft, smart tankers, an entire generation of unmanned vehicles, including Global Hawks, UCAVs (unmanned combat aerial vehicles) , armed scout Predators and shortly, hunter-killer UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). We are also developing a small diameter bomb and the airborne laser, to name just a few. Of course, we are going to complete the test, development and we will field that one system that was just renamed. We will bring stealth into the daylight and multiply the effects of our air and ground forces with the most dominant versatile and revolutionary aircraft in the history of military aviation, the F/A-22 Raptor multi-role strike system. We will do it.
As John and I noted, the F/A-22 Raptor designation better reflects the changes we are making to the aircraft in the now possible new ways in which we see the system being employed. It will be the world’s most advanced stealthy air dominance jet, outfitted with super cruise and unparalleled electronic capabilities; capable of countering and defeating enemy fighters and the next generations of SAMs (surface-to-air missiles) and cruise missiles and opening up for the first mobile targets deep within defended territory for identification and attack and kill.
Now we also have a lot of other things going on that you are well aware of. We are modernizing our mobility forces, upgrading the capabilities of our long-range strike forces and paying new attention to the needs of our own air commandos. As we continue to evolve ourselves to meet the requirements of this new era, we must ensure our space forces equipment and concepts of operation remain as innovative and capabilities based as those we are developing for our air-breathing systems. As the department’s executive agent for space, we are working with user agencies and joint war fighters to ensure that we take a comprehensive approach to national security space management. Pete Teets, our undersecretary, John and I are committed to achieving that end, even as we work to overcome many of the shortcomings and stresses on our current and in development systems.
We’ve reorganized. We have a superlative officer in Gen. Lance Lord, who heads Air Force Space Command, and we see a bright future because space capabilities in today’s world are no longer nice to have. They are becoming indispensable at the strategic, operational and tactical levels of war. While space capabilities have been an essential contributor in recent operations, we must modernize to maintain our war fighting advantage. In the early stages of space age, most capabilities were used by a limited group of users and they were highly classified. The current space regime is decidedly different. The forms and distinctions between black programs, white space, military, civil and commercial are growing increasingly blurred and we must ensure our space architectures remain capable of supporting our military missions as well as our civil users who rely on them for the swift flow of information and commercial applications.
We also realize that soon will come a time when space systems will grow beyond their traditional role as force enhancers and then will play a more active role in preventing, fighting and winning wars. Our adversaries have noted the advantages we have gained from space, and given the total interdependence we see in air and space power, we cannot risk the loss of space superiority. We must and will continue our efforts to protect our space assets and prepare ourselves to counter any enemy’s space assets.
In the longer run, the resource most critical to ensuring U.S. space superiority in the years to come is not technological or fiscal, it is people, like everything else in our Air Force. We must develop a well-thought through approach to what it is we want from our space systems and our space cadre and then we must educate warfighters throughout the join community and in our own space community on how these capabilities can positively affect warfighting -- and it is the effects we look for.
We have a whole host of challenges that have concentrated our minds and one of my highest priorities is our effort to remain innovative in how we approach a variety of organizational and resource challenges as well as in our approach to the defense industrial base about which I worry so much.
First, we must improve basic business efficiencies in our organizations from headquarters down to depots and our acquisition of major systems and the conduct of operations The Air Force, like the Department of Defense, will never be a business, but there is no reason why we cannot function in a more businesslike manner. For those of you in business, consider being told you are a CEO (chief executive officer) of a company but you have neither control nor any direct influence over your facilities, your people or the 150,000 tenured professors you have. It makes it a little tough for us but we have to work the issue.
Similarly, we need to pursue changes to acquisition rules and implement a system that fosters creativity, efficiency and innovation. We in the Air Force are trying to do our part. With the encouragement of (former Secretary) Pete Aldridge, who gave me just a lot of help in how to do this, we have in fact started a masters-level program in systems engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology. We will also be offering certificate programs to members of the government and we are looking for ways to find the means to allow individuals from industry who are specialists in systems engineering to come in and take courses and gain certificates.
Then, at the suggestion of John Jumper, we are creating a major at the U.S. Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs, Colo.) in systems engineering – not to raise systems engineers but to make sure that our future pilots, the officers in our air operations centers, battle managers and many others, think in systems engineering terms. Because the technology of our service grows and grows and we must be able to master it if we are going to have a comparative advantage over any potential enemy.
We need to create performance-based incentives in our contracts instead of relying on the inadequate accountability regimes that like total systems procurement responsibility that transfer program oversight responsibility from the government to the contractor. We can’t do that ever again.
When all is said and done, we are responsible for the equipment our airmen use to fly and exploit. We cannot let somebody else take that responsibility for us. With a contracted and still shrinking defense industry, we must find ways to ensure that the executives at major defense companies are as motivated by our needs as they are by the aspirations for their stock prices.
We’ve recently taken a small but tangible step in that direction. We’ve included a contract for our next generation environmental satellite system, the National Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite System or NPOESS. In that contract we have provisions of the contract that require the firm to provide their boards of directors twice a year, all of our contractor performance assessment reports and letters associated with award fees. We require the company to ensure that the board of directors, especially the compensation committee, will take into the account, those assessments of performance on our major programs, taken them into account prior to awarding total compensation to the top five executives of the firm. We will finally have a way to put some pressure on the chief financial officers of the defense industrial base and we’ll have a way of communicating with the board of directors whether or not these companies which are so highly dependent on us for business are in fact performing for us.
This is a modest step and we believe it will help us avoid some future cost problems like those we recently experienced in one of our space programs. It should create incentives for companies to provide estimates that are more accurate when they bid on projects and result in more discipline during program execution. As we’ve piloted this, we will shortly be sharing it with our Army and Navy colleagues. This is something to be used judiciously but we believe it is the first time that the customer, the monopolist in economic terms in fact is dealing correctly with the monopolists and duopolists who are out there.
We have aging aircraft that must be modernized and replaced, and in some cases we need to look at alternatives to outright purchase when it is in the best interest of the American taxpayers. In the case of our tanker fleet, we need to replace the oldest of our KC-135s that are 43 years old on average as of now. They are corroding from catalytic corrosion, a lot of the aluminum is delaminating and increasing they are involved in increased operating tempos.
You all know and have read of the saga of our negotiations on the lease for up to 100 tankers. I will say to you today what I said a year ago, acceleration of the modernization of our tanker force is essential to our ability to be project power and to defend the continental United States. Just ask any combatant commander. Ask the prospective Northern commander. Ask (Gen.) Tommy Franks, CENTCOM (U.S. Central Command) commander. If the business case for these jets on lease makes sense, we will proceed expeditiously through the process to try to make this happen. However, if it is in the too hard pile for one of any number of reasons then we will accelerate our procurement program and streamline it as we have done with the lease to get these new aircraft in the hands of our warfighters as soon as we possibly can.
I am deeply concerned with improving the health of our defense industry. I join Pete Aldridge in this. It is something we chat about a lot along with Mark Sambur, our Assistant Secretary for Acquisition. I am talking about addressing the erosion of basic capabilities throughout the sector, such as systems engineering, which I mentioned before, that result in simple but expensive problems of program execution. As we invest in the future, one of the government’s most important measures of success will be our ability to maintain a steady and sustained investment in our major weapons purchases.
It is sad to review the history of the C-17, a program that is performing just magnificently for our country. But this program with its fluctuations, cuts from 210 to 120, from 120 to 40 and then slowly rising as if a phoenix, cost the American taxpayer anywhere between $9 and $16 billion of unnecessary expenditures. We can’t repeat that. We just can’t repeat that. Those were real dollars. Any one of us can think of what we can do with $10 or $16 billions of dollars to help our airmen.
Other programs will likely suffer similar fates if we don’t achieve program stability so it is one of our more important goals. As we work through these issues, one of our most difficult challenges will remain caring for our people. We need to deliver on our commitment to quality of life so our people continue to do all that we ask of them to do, at home and deployed. With an all-volunteer force, shrinking infrastructure and bases, increasing reliance on Guard and Reserves in wartime mission demands, we must reassure military members and their families that family support and genuine quality of life is of primary importance.
We must recognize that there is a fundamental contract between volunteer military members and the families and the American people who benefit from their collective sacrifice. This partnership is built on an understanding that families as well as the servicemember contribute immeasurably to the strength of the American military. Our families certainly make sacrifices. We see it all the time and God love every one of them for doing it. It allows the servicemember to serve his or her country in ways they could not do in any other way. As we seek to set a new steady state, we must reallocate human resources to appropriate service missions. Where appropriate, we need to shift functions to contracted services, particularly for those functions without an inherent military function and we need airmen to work for airmen, focused on the missions and needs of our Air Force rather than the priorities of other agencies.
We have 12,000 airmen who are not working for the Air Force. John and I are committed to bringing back a whole bunch of them to work for our Air Force and we are going to do it. There will be some weeping and there will be some gnashing of teeth but we need those people. We need those airmen, and airmen are terribly valuable even in economic terms. The average burdened cost of an average enlisted airmen is now $95,000 per year. These are valuable people. They have to be treated as valuable people, not as a free good. They are too damn important to this country to be used in anything other than military roles where they make their greatest contribution. They are just too important.
We must continue to foster career aspirations among our officers and our enlisted personnel, whether they are operators, maintainers, logisticians, combat support or medics, readiness and mission performance depend on developing the best teams of quality individuals and motivating each and every one of them. We must and it is something that John and I have committed to, we must instill in our officers a burning desire for command. Command, that unbelievable crucible of leadership that has no counterpart in civilian life. There is something about this profession.
My wife of 41 years, whom I started to date when I was 13 and she was 12, turned to me last nigt and said "I now have an observation." She doesn’t speak very often. She said, "about you and John and Bill Bodie and others. The most interesting thing is when you were in a company; you were committed to your companies. You certainly focused but you were not consumed, but in the Air Force, you are consumed. It takes every moment of our day. It is in us whatever we do, driving a car. We don’t watch television the way we did. We don’t read without us all of a sudden taking notes, saying ooh."
Gen. Jumper and I have this running commentary that somehow in the middle of the night we do two hours of work and we write something down and then in the day we meet and say, this is what I was thinking about at night, that is what I was thinking about at night. I once said we’ve got to take sleeping pills so we can sleep all night. He said, no we can’t do that. The Air Force can’t afford it. It wasn’t the sleeping pill, it was the fact that we might not work for those two hours. Command, a burning desire for command and recognition of the total responsibility that those officers who assume command in our Air Force take.
It is a very exciting time to be in our Air Force. We are engaged and developing new strategies and new concepts of operation to meet an entirely different set of security challenges and vulnerabilities. Technology is creating dynamic asymmetric advances in information systems, communications and our weapon systems, enabling us to identify targets, employ forces and deliver more precise effects faster than ever before. Our airmen are more educated. Yes, we do now have eight enlisted airmen at AFIT (Air Force Institute of Technology) and that is just the beginning. They are more motivated, and better trained and equipped than at any time in history, creating advantages for our service and delivering capability to our nation.
Finally, we are in the midst of a truly revolutionary transformation of our organizations, equipment and operational concepts, making service in the Air Force today as exciting as at any other time in its history. As we reflect this week on the Air Force response to the War on Terrorism, as we celebrate the birth of our service 55 years ago today, I am deeply honored to consider myself an airman. I am reminded of a perspective offered by one of our most famous air power pioneers, Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell. Writing in 1924, he said, it is probably that future wars will be conducted by a special class – the Air Force – as it was by armored knights of the Middle Ages.
That reminded me of a story my mentor Andy Marshall who at age 81 celebrating his birthday today is still in the Pentagon and still the head of the Office of Net Assessment. Andy, when I was much younger, was fond of telling me over and over, that if we were to take an M-16 rifle and go back to King Arthur’s day and give it to a knight, the knight would get on his horse and try to knock the other guy off with it. He wouldn’t think of getting behind a tree and shooting him. His point was, it is so much easier to change the weapon the knight carries than it is to change the way the knight thinks.
We are trying to change the way our knights think as well. Besides working on programs, we are trying to create an environment, in business terms, a challenge up environment. In pilot’s terms, as John points out, a briefing room environment, where good ideas can come from anywhere and good ideas are listened to and accepted as is constructive criticism. After all, we would like to take all the credit in the world for opening up AFIT to our enlisted colleagues but it was a sergeant who asked the simple question, Mr. Secretary, I have a bachelor of science in double E. Why can’t I go to AFIT? Good idea. Asked John. He couldn’t think of any reason and we did it. By the way, five Marines have joined as well, so we have 13 enlisted there.
We are striving to create this new atmosphere so our knights can think in new and very interesting ways. We must never forget that airmen are a special class of warrior. They serve in the front lines around the globe defending freedom and risking their lives for the liberty and security of the United States of America. For all you airmen – and you are all airmen here today – thank you for your service and your sacrifice.
Again, I salute the AFA for this wonderful event. Thank you and may God Bless America.