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More than the mission

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

The next war will be won with discipline, aggressiveness and creativity in the execution of assigned missions.

Execution of our mission is our purpose behind service. This requires sacrifice and the highest calling of all ranks and responsibilities. Mission success is not guaranteed without properly organized, trained and equipped Airmen, but victory against the adversary requires commitment that exceeds simply being ready.

My charge to every Airman in the 21st Space Wing: be continuously disciplined, aggressive and creative — our mission’s success depends on it. Secretary of Defense James Mattis wrote, “Discipline is a competitive edge we must seek and maintain each day if we are to keep America safe from its enemies.”

As a wing responsible for early warning of a strategic attack against North America, Space Warning Systems, Geographically Separated Units and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, our mission is crucial in preventing an attack from ever occurring. This requires discipline ranging from communications system connectivity to operations and administering medical care.  

Training, evaluations, and procedures allow Airmen to focus on and execute mission. This requires supervisors to be diligent and alert to ineffectiveness within their units, then making corrections.

We must strive to be the best we can be every day, refusing the complacency and malaise that comes with overfamiliarity. Our core value of excellence is neither perfection nor a destination. Rather, it’s a journey that demands we address problems and exploit every mistake for the learning opportunity it should be, not balk from taking the harder path.

Aggressiveness is having tenacity and passion for the mission against an adversary who wants to deny, delay, deceive, disrupt, and/or defeat you. Aggressiveness includes defending our weapon systems, demanding urgent care for wounded Airmen, solving complex problems, or even confronting a toxic leader. Don’t shy away from the “impossible” or the “hard thing to do” – you’ve been trained, educated, equipped and supported by leaders to make those tough calls. 

Sometimes difficulty deters Airmen from following through and completing things that will have a lasting positive impact on our people and mission. Sometimes difficulty is saying “no” when mission effectiveness, command climate and/or wingman welfare are at risk. Other times, it’s not communicating honestly, or hiding unfortunate or dangerous truths from peers, leaders or wingmen. Don’t give up and don’t give in; refuse passivity, refuse indifference and refuse timidity. The Air Force needs leaders to be bold and demonstrate courage.

Creativity is a solution-oriented, innovative attitude that answers questions we don’t even know to ask. Every Airman has encountered the “this doesn’t make sense” or “why are we doing it this way” or “if we only did this” problems. If it’s not clear that someone else has the answer, seek it out and figure it out – at no time in my 22-year career have we been more empowered to solve problems facing our missions. 

We shouldn’t be asking the good-idea fairy to lead our organizations, but instead we should seek smart, lasting improvements. Pick the right problems to solve and methodically drive toward mission-oriented results. Establish clear goals and objectives, measure progress against a plan of action and resist the temptation to solve other problems prematurely.

In the same spirit we need to initiate new solutions, we must demonstrate the courage to leave other activities behind. If something doesn’t contribute to readiness or mission effectiveness, replace it or leave it behind, we don’t have time, resources, or energy to waste.

Nobody ever imagined what would come the day after Dec. 6, 1941 or Sept. 10, 2001. Be ready today for whatever will come tomorrow – personally and professionally. Adversaries rarely telegraph how or when they’ll choose to attack and attempt to deny us our mission objectives. Discipline, aggressiveness, and creativity are the foundations to deter and rebuff their advance and serve as the greatest means to victory.

Strength and Preparedness!