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January Commander's Corner

Portrait of Col. Theresa Prince, the commander of the 169th Medical Group at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Dec. 13, 2012.  (National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

Portrait of Col. Theresa Prince, the commander of the 169th Medical Group at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Dec. 13, 2012. (National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- I hope 2013 brings you and your family happiness, health and prosperity. This past year presented challenges for many American's as stress levels and anxiety elevated over our unemployment and economic uncertainties. Although there are varying opinions about the overall well being of our great country; I am confident that, as those before us have, we will weather this storm and America will emerge stronger than ever.

The past year brought many global-altering events. During the earliest months of 2012 we watched Syria's government forces clash with its citizens until it elevated into a full blown civil war. The United Nations acted with international attention on Syria but nothing helped as all sides involved chose fighting over any concurrence to end the violence. During this same time frame, the United States and the European Union initiated an oil embargo on Iran because they would not discontinue their uranium enrichment aimed towards developing nuclear weapons. The Syrian civil war continues today, as does the Iranian uranium enrichment program. This unrest affects the national interests of the United States, making our jobs as members of the U.S. military more precarious.

In March, tornados caused massive destruction in the United States, hitting 17 states, causing 40 deaths and injuring hundreds. Little Rock and Moody Air Force Bases both experienced damage of property and loss of equipment. As Americans always do, the citizens in the devastated areas united and rebuilt their communities. The events following these devastating tornadoes highlight the true American Spirit that all of us carry inside ourselves when it comes to getting through hard times.

From April through June we sat through nervous times as North Korea ignored international disapproval and launched a ballistic missile. The launch failed miserably but introduced a new threat to the world regarding North Korea employing ballistic missiles.

August brought us the unfortunate milestone of 2,000 U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan. In September the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked by terrorists who killed U.S. Ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three other Consulate officials. These events validate the need for our constant vigilance.

October saw hurricane Sandy pound N.J. and N.Y., devastating communities and claiming many lives. Through-out the devastation and destruction, many examples of citizens coming to the aid of others emerged. This is yet another illustration of the kindness, generosity and resiliency of the American people. Sandy also reminded us that in spite of all the planning, the Department of Homeland Security remains subordinate to Mother Nature.

In November, President Obama was re-elected while the Senate remained a Democratic majority and the House of Representatives remained a Republican majority.

At the time of this writing, forces in Israel and the Gaza strip remain in a state of unrest. A cease fire is in place but is weak at best and does not eliminate the fanatical idea that one group of people must be purged from the world in the interest of another. Syrian, internet and telephone systems have been shut down and North Korea announced plans to launch another missile. Rising turmoil in Egypt regarding their new Constitution continues and the fiscal cliff is looming.

Our world and political climate are constantly changing. With the on-going war in Afghanistan, the global threat of terrorism, a nuclear armed Iran, missiles in North Korea, turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa and the increasing threats of cyber warfare, we are exposed to threats that will task our capabilities for years to come. We must remain alert and adjust our posture and training to these ever changing threats. We will continue to do more with less. Our priorities will shift as we adjust to changes in manpower, global events and National Security threats.

The Men and Women of the 169th Fighter Wing are some of the most dedicated, well-trained and experienced National Guardsmen in the Nation. We live in the greatest country in the world, with the most courageous and committed individuals anywhere. Together we will ensure that America remains the exceptional nation it has always been and continue to lead the world in freedom and security.