Do you know where the organization is going?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Shawn Lee
  • 13th Space Warning Squadron

On June 20, 2019, when I assumed command of the 13th Space Warning Squadron, I not only stepped into the role of squadron command but also took the helm as the installation commander for Clear Air Force Station, Alaska. I was amazed by the scope of responsibility and the multitude of activity going on in this installation in the interior of Alaska. However, through a process of pulling together a diverse team with varied skillsets across the installation, we have been able to identify the key pillars that are critical to the success of the entire organization. Being a remote installation versus just a squadron, the key pillars for us are a bit more diverse than those of a typical unit. The seven pillars that we identified include:  development and taking care of people, space operations, maintenance, support functions, fire protection, installation defense and total force integration. In addition to the active duty members of 13th SWS, Clear AFS is also home to two Alaska Air National Guard Squadrons. 

Each of these seven pillars are critically important and have interdependencies that makes it prohibitive for me as the commander, or my leadership team, to focus on just one. With the aid of installation leadership, we identified key members that could best impact each of the pillars that we listed. Then, as a collaborative team we established just two or three improvements that we wanted to achieve for each. Doing this as a group has been greatly beneficial; because of the interdependencies of these seven functions across our large organization, there are areas where we realized how small changes in one pillar can have significant impacts across the organization.  Once Airmen are granted the authority to make improvements knowing that they are the ones that will need to execute and live with the changes, they are not only more committed, but also more willing to collaborate with the rest of the team. This was especially true when they better understood each other’s challenges and, more importantly, their vision and goals.

When the entire team can see what each part of the organization is doing, then we can improve our likelihood of success by having a cohesive approach.  Nobody is left in the dark on what we are trying to achieve. Rather, all Airmen know where cross-organizational teams can improve the installation more effectively than a single commander working alone could ever try to achieve.  By no means is this a gold standard for getting a team to collaborate and work on a strategic plan, but so far it is working for Team Clear.  Now that we have a vision for where we want to go, we are working to prioritize our efforts, pursue funding, and make incremental improvements both in the near-term and long-term.