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KEYSTONE in Dallas

Washington D.C. -- KEYSTONE 2009 is underway! On Monday, over 650 members of the Total Force JAG Corps convened in Dallas, Texas, for our fifth annual Leadership Summit. We've gathered to discuss leadership issues and discuss better ways to serve the United States Air Force. The conference has become an essential part of how we communicate and implement positive change throughout our Corps.

While KEYSTONE was originally intended to be a one-time meeting, it has grown into an annual event. Our Corps continues to benefit significantly from this Summit. In an age of e-mail, blackberries and VTCs, it's important that we meet once a year face-to-face. Technology provides many helpful communication tools. However, it isn't a substitute for meeting in person. KEYSTONE is where we look ourselves in the eye and ask the hard questions. This week, those hard questions are about the future of the Air Force and the future of the JAG Corps.

In the last four years, and throughout the implementation of JAG Corps 21, we have structurally changed how we deliver legal services and advice to our clients. Internally, these changes have been enormous. Externally, the changes are seamless to our clients. A growing number of our Corps' members only know the post-JAG Corps 21 Corps. A year from now, 50% of our active duty judge advocates and paralegals will have joined us since KEYSTONE 2005. Even as we change the way we deliver legal services to the Air Force, the composition of our Corps is changing just as dramatically.

To move the JAG Corps into the future, we need vanguard leadership. This leadership is marked by the ability to embrace the mission of today while preparing for emerging challenges. "Vanguard Leadership" is also the theme of this year's KEYSTONE. Our agenda focuses on understanding today's current national security and legal environment, developing leadership, and preparing for new technology and emerging areas of the law. We have worked hard to transform into a modern legal corps, and now we need forward-looking leaders to prepare us for the changes to come over the horizon.

This week, our speakers have included prominent leaders and experts in law, leadership and national security. For example, we have already heard about current Air Force issues from the Secretary of the Air Force, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force and General Counsel of the Department of the Air Force. We have discussed leadership learned under fire with the author of Joker One. Later this week, we will learn about emerging technology, including robots on the battlefield, from a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, and rising threats to our homeland from the Commandant of the Coast Guard.

On Monday, I told KEYSTONE attendees that there are changes and challenges ahead. We need vanguard leaders to bridge the gap between the missions of today and the missions of tomorrow. There are three types of people in our Corps: those who let it happen, those who make it happen and those who wonder what happened. We need leaders who will make it happen. We need leaders who earn their positions each day. We need leaders who remember that leadership is an action, not a position.