PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- 14th Air Force hosted a commander’s conference to deliver guidance associated with the 14th Air Force strategic plan, key initiatives, and organizational changes designed to support the future standup of U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) May 7 - 8, 2019.
Current and future commanders and command chiefs from the 21st Space Wing, 30th Space Wing, 45th Space Wing, 50th Space Wing, 460th Space Wing, 310th Space Wing, Combined Space Operations Center, National Space Defense Center, National Reconnaissance Office, and 14th Air Force directors attended the conference at the Peterson Leadership Development Center.
During the conference Maj. Gen. Stephen Whiting, 14th Air Force commander, highlighted key initiatives supporting 14th Air Force’s three priorities: Intelligence-Led Operations, Fight Tonight Readiness, and Innovation from Every Level.
Initial guidance to the commanders highlighted the importance of training for the fight intelligence says we will face; maturing the space targeting enterprise; enhancing Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance unit support; and fostering the development of intelligence driven tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs).
“To advance our mission effectiveness, we must always operate informed by the best intelligence we can collect and develop. Accordingly, we are creatively and aggressively training our Airmen for the fight intelligence says we will face,” said Whiting. “To foster mission success, we are developing intelligence-driven TTPs that improve our mission effectiveness. Integrating operations and intelligence into combat power is a priority.”
Conference attendees also discussed the importance of building “Fight Tonight Readiness” by supporting the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s initiative to revitalize our squadrons; and tying funding decisions and unfunded requirements to readiness shortfalls. Additionally, commanders were challenged to create, foster, and sustain a warfighting culture; and to integrate advanced space combat tactics and training into operations and plans with partner organizations.
“The health and mission effectiveness of our squadrons relies on restoring readiness. The heart of our Air Force is in our squadrons who generate and sustain Fight Tonight Readiness and combat lethality,” said Chief Master Sgt. John Bentivegna, 14th Air Force command chief. “Our Airmen are warfighters! They are our most powerful weapon system, our greatest asset, and their skills are the foundation of our competitive advantage. In our effort to build superior warfighters, we must enhance training realism and make every effort to be fully integrated with allies and partners.”
Supporting the priority of Innovation from Every Level, conference attendees were challenged to develop processes to reward, fund and reinforce innovation; celebrate and elevate those who pursue innovation; and integrate developmental operations into space warfighting.
Highlighting a tangible example of innovation, attendees discussed a newly minted concept called a Combat Development Division (CDD). A CDD is a small development team within a wing solely focused on solving squadron level operator needs. It is constructed of personnel from both operational units and the acquisition community working with commercial and contractor software developers on site.
“The CDD concept came from the Special Operations community. We are implementing it here to support Air Force Space Command’s (AFSPC) Guidance and Intent for development and operations, to acquire capabilities faster, to provide focused operator input to Space and Missile Systems Center and AFSPC, and to become more operationally responsive to emerging threats,” said Whiting. “With the signing of the new SAF/AQ memorandum to use rapid prototyping, the CDD created a bottom-up process that focuses exclusively on current space operators’ needs.”
Next attendees addressed plans and structure changes supporting the successful standup of USSPACECOM. The Joint Force Space Component Command is currently planning the standup of USSPACECOM, which is scheduled to occur during 2019. The new combatant command will plan and conduct space operations and employ space forces to deter, and if necessary, defeat threats in order to secure U.S. national interests.
“The establishment of U.S. Space Command is our top priority. It will elevate the strategic value of our operations and support our mission to defend vital national interests in space,” said Whiting. “USSPACECOM will also strengthen our strategic deterrence through the provision of space warfighting options that preserve U.S. and Allied competitive advantage, and promote security and stability. This is an exciting time; and I’m looking forward to working even closer with allies and partners to guarantee unfettered access to and freedom to operate in space.”
During the conference Lt. Gen. (ret) Glen “Wally” Moorhead, Department of Defense space mentor, and former 50th Space Wing commander, also met with the space commanders to reflect on how they can lead through change, and prepare for a potential war in space.
“There are a lot of changes coming, and it’s exciting, and as commanders you own it…you’re going to be the ones who direct the E-5s and Captains to execute operations; and they are going to do it viciously and lethally,” said Moorhead. “Take this new organizational structure and use it flexibly to support your warfighting requirements. It’s only a matter of time before there’s a real Luke Skywalker; and we have to prepare for it…the things you’re doing today are getting us ready for a war in space.”
Commanders and command chiefs addressed numerous additional topics during the conference, to include: wing and unit successes and challenges, status of discipline, building combat readiness, leader development, cyber operations, and new commander expectations.