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Own it

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- As the new 21st Operations Group commander, my most enjoyable duty is to travel with Chief Master Sgt. Brad Smith to the corners of this globe and visit those who are performing duties few in the society we defend can fathom.

I'm proud to report that our Airmen of the 21st Space Wing -- military, civilians, allies, and contractors alike -- exude pride, a sense of duty, and are owning their mission.

The less-than-scholarly urban dictionary defines "owning it" as "taking pride in what you got." I like it, and that perfectly describes our team's actions. Knights across the world are owning their missions in so many ways, and are an inspiration to others.

For example, I'm inspired by Tech. Sgt. Landon Johnson at the 12th Space Warning Squadron, Thule Air Base, Greenland. He not only performs his mission as a crew chief providing missile warning, missile defense, and space surveillance to our nation and allies, he stepped up to fill a void as the weapons and tactics lead in a unit currently without an permanent weapons officer. He has an infectious, can-do attitude and isn't waiting for someone else to lead the critical thinking required to defend a contested, degraded, and operationally-limited domain.

Another thing I've noticed is our force is young, with brave souls asking questions we more "crustier" may not think to solicit. They own their ideas, say "surely there is a better way to do things" and drive real innovation in their missions. This theme is represented by 2nd Lt. Kenneth Stewart at the 20th Space Control Squadron, Eglin AFB, Florida. One of his critical missions is to track foreign and domestic space launches. During a recent launch of Space X's Falcon 9 capsule to the International Space Station, he employed clever "hand-off" techniques to immediately send crucial orbital information to other surveillance sensors to maintain the capsule's custody in space.

These techniques are the genesis of the actions we'll continue to use to watch and defend our domain -- especially as it becomes more challenged. I'm also heartened to see our Airmen owning the responsibility to care for one another. The great ones among us understand that self-respect and self-dignity lead to respect for others. This is personified by 2nd Lt. Margot Wolfersberger at Cavalier AFS, North Dakota. In preparation for a recent Wingman Day, she traveled 90 miles to Grand Forks AFB to be trained in ways to enhance the resilience of her wingmen at the Air Force's only isolated remote duty location in the continental United States. She led several teambuilding and communication exercises and cemented her role as a key, informal leader in her unit. Her care for others and her tangible actions help build a better team who can weather tough personal and mission challenges.

I'm pleased to see the Knights of the 21st Space Wing embracing their roles as professionals, making their mission theirs, and setting us all up for success in the space domain. To them and you all, I say keep owning it.