Built to last

  • Published
  • By Col. Thomas Falzarano
  • 21st Space Wing

Our Air Force is comprised of incredible Airmen who are unmatched in the history of the world and are second to none.  While we are part of the greatest Air Force ever assembled, it’s important that from time to time we step back and ask important questions.  One question I’d like us to ask is: “Are we built to last?”  This is a critical and complex question for every Airman and every leader to think about at every level of our Wing.  It starts with analyzing our team at the wing level, asking the same question at an individual Airman level and at every step in between.  With that in mind, I’d like to share a few thoughts on leadership and where I will focus in the months ahead.

I believe it takes really good leaders to succeed in times of hardship.  However, successfully navigating good times requires exceedingly great leaders.  This may seem counterintuitive.  No doubt, you’ve heard or read that anyone can lead when resources, people and money are plentiful.  That may be true in the short term but not in the long run.  Too many times the spotlight of success provides us with a false sense of security and leads to lazy and undisciplined leadership that spells our doom when budgets and fortunes turn.  

Over the last 70 years our Air Force’s budget in constant year dollars is exactly flat.  Sure, we’ve seen years and decades of growth.  However, 70 years of experience tells us that increased budgets and focus on growing mission areas, like we currently see in space, will eventually return to normal.  The same is true when we study our adversaries.  Times of relative peace are the most dangerous for the undisciplined and unfocused leader.  For that reason, we in the 21st Space Wing must remain extra vigilant and continue to build a wing and a base capable of not only winning today but for decades to come: a wing, groups, squadrons that the Airmen who follow us will be proud to inherit.    

I will take time over the next few months to learn about your important contributions to our mission.  Together we will examine our mission, vision and priorities.  In the meantime, my promise to the men and women of the 21st SW is that I will work to help you build sustainable operations, organizations and Airmen. I will work to foster strong relationships, and strengthen our culture.  While we do this, we will live by three tenants in addition to our core values: Respect, Readiness, and Responsibility.  In doing so we will set the standard for what it means to be a wing, group, squadron, and Airman.

All of us working in the National Security Space Enterprise do so in historic times.  In the 21st SW, we face opportunities and challenges in managing the increased growth.  In the weeks ahead I will challenge our leadership team to fully understand our capacity, our capability and our readiness.  As we do this, we will build sustainable organizations and conduct and plan operations capable of meeting any near-peer threat.

Successful teams go hand in hand with strong relationships.  Over the next two years, we will seize every opportunity to build stronger bonds between individual Airmen, across squadrons and groups, with all who call Peterson home, with those bases who host our units around the world, and with our local community.

Cementing all of our efforts is a strengthened culture.  First and foremost, a culture of Airmen helping Airmen. Second, a culture of initiative where ideas know no rank or position.  Every day in our wing there is an Airman with the solution to a problem.  My promise to you is to work tirelessly to find you and set the conditions by which you can be heard.  Finally, there are hidden gems across our wing.  Airmen whose talent has gone unnoticed and undiscovered.  We are going to find you and bring your ideas to the table. 

In the coming weeks you will hear me talk more about Readiness, Respect, and Responsibility.  Those three words will be imprinted on the wing commander’s coin.  I look forward to having a conversation with you about why they are so critical and together with our Air Force Core Values, the cornerstone of building a team and Airmen who are “Built to Last!”  

Stacey and I are honored to once again call the 21st SW home.  I look forward to learning from you and helping you in accomplishing our critical mission.