Air Force Bands Provide More Than Music
(September 28, 2010)
|WASHINGTON (9/24/2010 - AFNS) -- Airmen deployed to combat zones today perform a
variety of missions, ranging from precision bombing to explosive ordnance
disposal, to working with local community leaders as members of provincial
reconstruction teams and even training Iraqi and Afghan soldiers and airmen.
The Air Force Band performs during the Air Force Week New York City proclamation ceremony Aug. 24, 2010, on the flight deck of the USS Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. U.S. Air Force photo
by Lance Cheung
Air Force bandsmen, too, operate throughout the U.S. Central Command region
helping further relationships in challenging environments while also
entertaining U.S. and coalition forces.
"We need to provide ground commanders with every available asset to win in the
(counter-insurgency) environment," said Lt. Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of U.S.
Air Forces Central Command, "and this means Airmen making relationships one
person at a time, amongst the local population. The gift of music opens doors
that a weapon can't. Our Airmen musicians are out there in the AOR reaching
people through their music."
Consisting of Airmen who are also professional musicians, the AFCENT band
transcends boundaries of language, culture, time, geography and bias to inspire
lasting partnerships. Entertaining U.S. and coalition forces, they bring a taste
of home and normalcy to a deployed environment. Band performances also assist
community diplomacy - not only for school groups and at host-nation community
events, but also at high-profile official or diplomatic events.
"Bands bring people together and can make the mission easier in a difficult
environment," said Lt. Col. Alan Sierichs, Air Force Public Affairs chief of
music. "Earlier this year, a group from The Air Force Band, deployed from
Washington, D.C., played for audiences ranging from school-age children through
college students in Kyrgyzstan. The U.S. Embassy staff said they consistently
saw positive changes in attitude after each performance, and the ambassador was
heard to say the performances 'went a long way in furthering U.S. goals.'"
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently said during a TV interview when
asked whether musicians have a role to play in diplomacy, "There are certainly
times when music conveys American values better than a speech."
Air Force bands portray American values via a diverse mix of musical genres.
While some ensembles specialize in a particular style, they train to include
formats appealing to a wide-range of musical tastes and include musical styles
native to the country where they perform.
"The AFCENT Band performances in the schools and culture centers in nearby
villages opened a door for us to talk to the students and adults alike and to
share a common bond," said Col. Dwight Sones, 376th Air Expeditionary Wing
commander at the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan. "These performances spread
our message that we are partners here, and we are working together to improve
the lives of the people of Kyrgyzstan."
Airmen from the Air Force Band of Flight, based out of Wright-Patterson Air
Force Base, Ohio, are currently deployed aboard the U.S.S. Iwo Jima on a
four-month humanitarian civil assistance mission. The mission is providing
medical, dental, veterinary and engineering assistance to residents of eight
countries, and the bandsmen are helping "open doors" to often-skeptical publics.
"Music is another way to communicate, and it opens the hearts and minds of the
people," said Maj. Mike Mench, Air Force Band of Flight commander. "When the
United States military plays the music of a host nation, it lowers the borders
and enables us to perform the medical and engineering mission more effectively."
When not deployed, the bands serve as a public face for the Air Force to the
American and international publics. They travel throughout their region playing
in communities, and for many people these ambassadors are often the only Airmen
they meet. Bandsmen also serve as an example of the professionalism and skill
embodied by all Airmen.
"What's seen are real people wearing the uniform of our country, using their
talents to serve our nation. They also represent the precision and
professionalism people expect from the Air Force," Colonel Sierichs explained.
During Air Force Week celebrations across the U.S., Air Force bands often reach
people otherwise not interested in the Air Force. In New York City this past
August, Air Force bandsmen entertained civilians of all ages at various venues
throughout the city, including a proclamation ceremony, a Major League Baseball
game and a rock band performance in Times Square which entertained thousands.
For Air Force Week in Sacramento, Sept. 5 to 13, 2009, bands from California and
Washington, D.C. played at events and performed numerous radio and television
appearances to draw community attention to scheduled events. They performed
genres ranging from classical to country to rock. By request, with only a week's
notice, they also formed a Dixieland ensemble that played at the entrance to a
local baseball game and sang the National Anthem for the sporting event.
Regardless of their location or venue, Airman musicians strive to hit the right
notes to support the Air Force mission.
More information on Air Force bands may be found on their website at
Force band performances may be requested by military or civilian organizations
through their website at
By USAF SMSgt. David Byron
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
Air Force News
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"Locked and Loaded" music video by
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