Fight’s On!!

Col. Devin Pepper, 21st Operations Group Commander

Col. Devin Pepper, 21st Operations Group Commander

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE. Colo. --

Becoming the commander of the 21st Operations Group was a seminal moment in my career.  There is no other Group in the Air Force I could have asked to command.  The mission of the 21 OG is to execute combat-relevant space superiority capabilities to secure space for our nation and Allies.  As Commander, my goal is to ensure the group is prepared for a fight that is not just coming in space, but is already here—today! 

The beginning of that preparation is executing Space Mission Force (SMF).  SMF is how we as a space organization present forces to Combatant Commanders for execution and train for our mission.  There are some who would argue that SMF is the space community trying to mimic and be like the air breathing community.  My toned down response to that is, “negative” this is the space community integrating and adapting the lessons learned from other warfighting communities in order to present our capability to Combatant Commanders as an integrated fighting force.  As a former operations group commander once said, “this is the Air Force, not IBM.”  We kill people and break things…this is what we do, so we must embrace a warfighting mentality and culture if we want to win the fight that is at our door step.  Our adversaries have already threatened our dominance in space, therefore, we must be ready to respond to this threat.

So what do we have to do to win this fight?  First, as I’ve already mentioned, we must embrace SMF and ensure we are ready to fight tonight! 

Second, as space warriors, we have to be proficient in our weapon systems (and in the 21 OG, we operate 15 of them).  Our national leaders and allies count on us being good at what we do, even if we have to fight through a contested, degraded operational environment.  Many of our weapon systems provide the critical “sensing” function of our nation’s nuclear command, control and communications system and our national leaders insist on our ability to do our jobs and do them successfully!

Third, we have to be good wingmen to and for each other.  We have an obligation to take care of and fight for the person next to us.  We do this by treating each other with basic human respect and dignity (as you would want to be treated).  Anything less than this is not compatible with Air Force service, affects readiness and our ability to defeat our adversaries ensuring security of the ultimate high ground.   

Finally, as a space warfighting community, we must be ready to accept change which is coming faster than anyone realized (and some change may be forced upon us).  How quickly we embrace and adapt to this change will determine our success as a community on being able to prosecute a war that extends or starts in space.  This is a great time to be a space warrior!  Fight’s on!