Priorities give direction

  • Published
  • By Col. Chris Crawford
  • 21st Space Wing commander
Visions, mission statements, priorities and goals are often overlooked. They are the obligatory decoration for unit web pages, and they adorn slides we speed through at the beginning of a presentation. While routinely glossed over, goals and priorities are critically important and, if done right, are crafted in carefully considered, precise language. They provide clear insight into a commander's intent for their command and, more importantly, concise direction for the execution of each unit's mission.

When I was a new lieutenant, I often wondered where the major command was headed and what big initiatives were underway. I wondered how I could see the big picture from the peanut gallery, but I needn't have done so. The Air Force Space Command priorities and goals would have given me that information outright. Further, they would have given me clear insight on how to tailor and focus my innovations and efforts accordingly.

There are currently three AFSPC priorities: supporting the current fight, getting control of the cost of space programs, and normalizing and operationalizing cyberspace. Two of these priorities apply directly to the 21st Space Wing. Supporting the current fight is, almost verbatim, one of our wing priorities and applies to the wing as a whole. Improvement of space acquisitions and reducing the cost of space operations holds direct implications for our operations group, but the concept can also be expanded to apply across all mission areas in the wing as well.

Supporting the current fight is a no-brainer. We are at war, we have Airmen in harm's way, and it is our duty to support that effort first and foremost. Our wing does this on a daily basis, and I could not be prouder of our efforts in line with this priority. We must continue to innovate, though, and look for further ways to leverage our capabilities, weapon systems and manpower to support operations in Afghanistan and around the world.

Getting control of the cost of space programs helps us to both support the current fight and leads into future operations. Executing space programs smarter and cheaper gives us more "bang for the buck" now and enables us to procure even more operational capability in the long run. Helping to keep costs and programming in check ultimately allows us to meet AFSPC's goal of operating resilient, integrated systems.

Cost control applies to all mission areas, though, not just operations. Every dollar we save means more funds for support and sustainment, medical services, morale functions, fitness and the myriad other missions that shape our vast wing. These savings don't just come from smart programming on multi-million dollar projects - they come from the small but impactful innovations that each of us can devise, promote, and/or implement in our own work. For example, something as small as printing slides without a color background could, ultimately, save thousands of dollars in toner and enable us to use that money elsewhere for other needs.

We built our wing priorities and end states to nest with those of AFSPC and to ensure they apply to all mission areas. In every initiative and project we consider, I ensure it meshes with the priorities of the wing and my leadership before adding it to the wing strategic plan. I ask you to do the same. Take a good look at the direction of the command, and the wing priorities I've previously outlined, and focus the efforts of your units, flights and shops in that direction. The AFSPC and wing priorities will tell you what the command wants to accomplish - and thus the innovations and ideas you should pursue as well.