2016: Continuing Space Superiority

  • Published
  • By Col. Troy Endicott
  • 21st Operations Group commander
2016 is starting off to be an exciting year full of big events. We'll elect a new President and Commander in Chief, the 2016 Summer Olympics will occur in festive Rio de Janeiro, and the Broncos will win the Super Bowl (OK, maybe that's up for wishful debate...) 2016 will also be a big year for space events. NASA's Juno spacecraft will reach Jupiter, China will complete the world's largest and most sensitive radio space telescope, and commercial space ventures will continue to progress at dizzying and exciting rates.

2016 will also be a defining year for the 21st Operations Group as we strive to achieve the 21st Space Wing's vision of unrivaled space superiority--driving excellence and innovation today and tomorrow. We know that achieving this vision couldn't be better timed as the space domain is truly changing, and much of it for good (our country now sports commercial rockets that land themselves) and in other ways evolving into a more challenged regime. We are coming to grips with the reality that space is no longer a benign operating environment. Those who wish to oppose our nation's warfighting superiority are seeking to degrade our space capabilities which underpin a winning global force.

Secretary of the Air Force, the Honorable Deborah L. James, charged us to think differently when she spoke at the last year's 31st Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, "We need to be ready in case a conflict extends to space, while promoting the responsible use of space. We need to wrap our heads around the idea that space may not always be a peaceful domain and respond accordingly." The 21st OG is owning the responsibilities that come with achieving sustained success in an increasingly contested operating environment--where threats are no longer irrelevant variables.

Operators, intel, maintainers, engineers, and those who support operations in the 21st Operations Group will infuse in ourselves a warfighter ethos. We will energize a culture that prepares a force to grapple with potential strife that extends to space. We will step out smartly in 2016 and institute a "space mission force" for our space control mission and set the groundwork for our ground-based radars. This initiative emphasizes executing disciplined operations today, and spending equal amounts of time on threat-centric, advanced training.

We have kicked off "the year of the space tactician" across the ops group to celebrate and germinate innovation by those who know the mission best--our Airmen at the tactical edge of the sword. I am impressed with what I'm already seeing. For example, our ground-based radar crews are generating better ways to gain space situational awareness, our optical telescope leaders are investigating new ways to counter natural phenomena that has historically limited operational uses, and we're building progression programs in our space control mission that push our best tacticians and operators to prominent positions faster.

It's important to note that 21st OG personnel cannot maintain unrivaled space superiority without the assistance of the 21st SW total force. Every day, Airmen, civilians, and contractors provide vital services that support our wing's critical 24/7 operations of executing global capabilities to defend the homeland and secure space for our nation and allies. Whether you're assigned to the wing staff agencies, mission support group, or medical group you contribute to overall success of the 21st SW's mission.  

What does this mean for you? Your leadership team is open to good ideas and we encourage responsible risk taking, as we know unrivaled operations and support begins with your excellence and innovation. There has been no better time to bring decisive ideas forward--ones that better support our operations, make our operations support better, and ones that make each other better. Make 2016 a year in which you make a difference. Make it sweet.