New vice commander joins 21st Space Wing
By Col. Wayne Monteith, 21st Space Wing vice commander
/ Published August 05, 2008
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
I am proud to be serving with the finest professionals in the space business here at Peterson and pleased to be back in the Rockies. Of my 19 years in service, more than one third has been here in Colorado Springs, and my family and I are excited to reunite with friends and create new ones as I assume the role of your vice commander.
Although I am no stranger this region, this is my first assignment within the 21st Space Wing. My contributions will come from my experience working these mission areas from a strategic perspective while assigned to Headquarters Air Force Space Command, U. S. Space Command, North America Air Defense Command, and U. S. Northern Command here at Peterson. I also have experience at Headquarters Air Force and most recently the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
My first weeks as your vice commander have been high speed. I have a thirst for knowledge and I'm definitely drinking from the proverbial fire hose. Regarding first impressions, I'm impressed with the fine Knights of the 21st. I enjoy hitting the ground running, figuratively and literally.
I grew up in Hawaii and love to run. At that time they conducted a relay around the perimeter of Oahu that covered over 130 miles and took about 14 hours for each seven person team to complete. It was a great event and gave my fellow high school cross country teammates and I the chance to bond and to challenge ourselves and the competition. I've run marathons, the Pike's Peak Ascent and countless other races, but nothing compares to the Oahu perimeter run for a test of individual effort and reliance on teammates. This is just like our wing. The team can only succeed through the outstanding efforts of individuals working together, toward a common goal.
Those grueling runs were a part of developing my work ethic in college, the Air Force, and life in general. It's a building block toward my expectations of those who serve with me. My expectations for the Knights are essentially the same whether they are enlisted, civilian or officer:
- Make a difference every day, preferably a positive difference
- Understand your role in our organization, understand your contribution to mission success
- Never walk by a problem, never miss an opportunity to mentor
- Be positive, honest and a role model for our Air Force
My role as vice commander is essentially modeled after my responsibility to our wing commander's mission elements of space superiority, unsurpassed installation support and protection, and deploying warrior Airmen. To do this, some of the elements I demand from myself are to support, equip and care for our Airmen.
I'm charged to support the wing commander's vision and priorities. We must speak with one voice in order to effectively achieve mission accomplishment in an efficient manner.
We need to ensure our people have the training and tools to safely and successfully accomplish the mission. There is no sense in coming to work each day and paying a days wage if people aren't trained and equipped to complete their work.
The cost of doing business today is high for many Airmen, so we must ensure our families are taken care of and that we are the flagship installation for Air Force Space Command. Taking care of our families is not only the right thing to do, but essential for solid morale, quality of life and retention.
I challenge each person to self-evaluate and know where they stand in supporting this wing.
Going back to my youth as a runner on Oahu, I am very much a team player -- and I appreciate those who are team players as well. I believe in being inclusive versus exclusive.
A situation occurred shortly after assuming command of the Vandenberg AFB's 392d Training Squadron four years ago that left and indelible impression. It was apparent that the unit's second lieutenants were being treated as students first, and as military members second. An artificial wall had been created that prevented mentoring and that fostered sophomoric behaviors. So, during a subsequent commander's call I invited one of the top officer students onto the stage and ripped the student patch from his flight suit, threw it into the crowd and replaced it with our squadron colors. From that day forward we would succeed or fail as a single organization, just like we do at the 21st Space Wing!
I look forward to visiting your work centers, getting to know you, and succeeding together with you here at the 21st Space Wing.
KEYS TO WORKING WITH THE NEW VICE COMMANDER
- Don't mix up the order of the words in "Service before Self."
- I don't ask people to do anything that I'm not willing to do myself, whether it's re-writing a point paper, running every step of a checklist or cleaning a bathroom...so, if I'm asking it's because it needs to be done...I'm not real big on "busy work."
- Anticipate issues, find creative solutions, do your absolute best and don't be afraid to fail.
- Bad news really does not get better with age, so own up to it, save the apologies, and just fix it.
- Lead, mentor and inspire those around you.