Airmen: Our most valuable resource

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jennifer Moore
  • 21st Operations Group commander
It is an amazing honor to be back among the men and women of the 21st Operations Group and the 21st Space Wing. I am constantly amazed at the variety of work that we do in so many different career fields accomplishing so many different missions.

As I prepared to take command of the 21st OG almost two weeks ago, I thought long and hard about what made my new job and this wing so tremendous. I thought about the many different locations, the significance of our organization to national defense and our history of accomplishments. In the end though, those things were not at the heart of what inspired me about our team. No, in the final analysis, the most significant thing about our wing is our people. Our Airmen - officers, enlisted, active, guard, reserve and Department of the Air Force civilians - are most definitely our most important resource.

The idea that our Airmen are our most important resource may seem like a lot of lip service. After all, we are the most technologically advanced military on earth. In the space business, we operate, maintain, protect and support some of the most sophisticated weapon systems ever developed. Surely then, it's our technology that makes us powerful and respected around the globe, right? Absolutely not. Our strength and our military advantage lie in our Airmen.

Even as you're reading this, 21st Space Wing Airmen are performing critical jobs around the world, in Thule, Greenland, at Clear, Alaska, on the island of Diego Garcia and in many different deployed locations. And what's most amazing about that? Every last one of those professionals is a volunteer, serving our Air Force and vowing to "Fly, Fight and Win" because of their commitment to duty and their love of country. That willingness to endure hardships and separation from family is one piece of what makes and keeps us strong as an Air Force.

Add to that commitment the tremendous ability of our people to innovate and you'll get an even better picture of the significance of our Airmen. The Airmen of the 21st Space Wing are bright, creative problem solvers. Given the chance, they will find new and better ways to accomplish the mission, saving time and money. They revel in doing more than anyone might have imagined with the tools they are given. Gen. George Patton may have put it best when he said, "Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they'll surprise you with their ingenuity."

It's the ingenuity of our Airman that will triumph when the odds are long and the challenges seem insurmountable.

Not only are our Airmen selfless and innovative, they represent the very best that our country has to offer. As Airmen, we live by a code - Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence in All We Do - that is respected and admired by all. Did you know that in the December 2010 Gallup poll of honesty and ethics, 73 percent of Americans said that the military profession ranked "very high" or "high" in ethical standards? There is no doubt that people look to us as Airmen to do what's right, to maintain high standards and to never give in to "good enough" when "better" is possible.

So, if it's not clear to you by now, I believe in the power of our Airmen. At my change of command, I told a story about a general officer who said, "The Air Force you serve in today will be vastly different 10 years from now." Some people who heard those words thought they sounded threatening, but another general officer reframed the situation this way. He said, "In 1947, the year our Air Force was born, we were the most powerful Air Force on earth. Ten years from now, if we have less than half of our physical assets, we will still be the most powerful Air Force on earth, and it won't be because of our technology. It will be because of our people."

So, what's the bottom line? Our Airmen - not technology, not real estate, not hardware or software, not money - is our most valuable resource. If you believe that, then be sure to do what you would do with anything of great value - take good care of it. Look out for one another and be the best Wingman you can be. When you see another Airman in trouble, don't standby and stay silent; speak up and make a difference. Encourage one another to constantly improve and never settle for just getting things done. Strive to stay emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy and don't forget to enjoy a well-deserved rest when the hard work is finished.

I am thrilled to be back in the 21st, primarily because I get another opportunity to serve with the awesome Airmen of the 21st Space Wing. You truly are our most valuable resource and I can't wait to see the amazing things we do together.