AU Honorary degree for Rep. 'Ike' Skelton
The Honorable Isaac N. Skelton IV, former U.S. Representative from Missouri and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee speaks to attendees after being awarded The Doctor of Law, Honoris Causa by The Air University. Ceremony was held Monday, 5 Nov 2012 in Polifka Auditorium on the campus of Squadron Officer College located on Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Ala. (U.S. Air Force photo by Donna L. Burnett)
AU honorary degree for Skelton

by Rebecca Burylo
Dispatch staff writer

11/9/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Conferring one of Air University's greatest honors, Lt. Gen. David Fadok, Air University commander and president, awarded retired U.S. House Representative Isaac "Ike" Skelton IV with the "honoris causa" Doctorate of Law for his contributions to government and military education Nov. 5 in the Squadron Officer College's Polifka Auditorium.

Fadok shared Skelton's lifetime of service to his country and its defenders, highlighting his role in the 1986 Goldwater-Nichlos Act, which simplified the chains of command and reduced interservice rivalries.

"You have not only championed, but have actively led changes in joint professional military education with a goal of providing more critical thinkers and enlightened strategists for our nation," Fadok said. "You have been outspoken in holding us, the providers of joint professional military education, to task."

After graduating from the University of Missouri School of Law, Skelton began his political career as a county prosecutor. He also served as a senator and a representative for 34 years while acting as chairman for the House Armed Services Committee and serving the Small Business Committee for Procurement, International Trade and Technology.

Skelton's support of the Air Force and the military began with his fascination with aviation as a boy, flying with his father in a Culver Cadet, cleaning airplane hangars and earning his Boy Scouts of America aviation badge.

To the audience of commandants, commanders, chiefs, faculty, staff and students, he expressed his pride in their defense of the United States.

"No one appreciates better than the audience here today, the courage, the commitment and the capabilities of our great warfighters," said Skelton. "And no one doubts the ability of our men and women in uniform to get the job done no matter how hard it might be."

Skelton praised them for their can-do spirit, but urged the audience to study history and strategy before taking action, sharing his experience in Congress aiding presidents in the decision of war.

"One of the best qualities of Americans is our can-do spirit. When we see a problem we want to get out there and fix it, but that's seldom the place to start," he said. "Strategy is all about starting with the right questions. What we care about, what exactly do we want to achieve, and how should we get there?"

The Air Force and other military branches have a responsibility to identify strong strategists and grow their talent through military education in order to ensure America maintains its leadership role on a world stage, he said.

"Most of the responsibility rests on your shoulders in establishing a strategy for the future. This university will help you prepare to fulfill that all important responsibility," said Skelton. "Study hard, let history be your guide and do your best in your duties."