By Reggie Selby
21st SW Small Business Office
The 21st Space Wing has Airmen and civilians spread around the globe, from Hawaii to Alaska, from Greenland to Spain, and dozens more points in between.
To keep that infrastructure running, the Wing depends on more than 2,000 contractor employees supporting the missions throughout the world. Many of these employees work for small businesses and perform crucial missions in support of the missile warning and space control operations, installation support and operations. Small businesses and the missions they perform for the Wing are critical to our nation’s defense.
From the moment of rolling through the gates of Peterson, people encounter the efforts of our small business teammates. They provide various maintenance, logistics and transportation services for Team Pete through maintenance of traffic lights, streets and surrounding grounds. Small businesses employ the contracted doctors and nurses who take care of our people at the medical clinic and feed our Airmen at the dining facility.
Small business contractors not only take care of Team Pete, they are also important to operational missions. Contractors manage local area networks and ensure future command, control, and communications and computer systems are free from enemy attacks.
They calibrate sensitive laboratory equipment supporting our space surveillance systems and ensure the safe movement of thousands of aircrafts on our flight lines. Additionally, as new missions come here, small business contractors are responsible for building new facilities to house additional people and equipment.
Small businesses support Air Force Space Command headquarters by providing concepts of operations for future weapons systems. Small businesses also support Headquarters North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command Homeland Security missions.
These small businesses are important to our missions, but they are also vitally important to our nation’s economy for a variety of reasons including creating 66 percent of the new jobs and outpacing other businesses in innovative research and development by 24 times. Team Pete needs the economic strength of small businesses.
The 21st SW Small Business Office, teamed with the 21st Contracting Squadron, are working to ensure maximum participation of small businesses in all their acquisitions. In 2008, the 21st CONS awarded $221 million in contracts to small businesses. These contract awards go a long way to help get our economy back on the right track and the 21st CONS continue to focus efforts in awarding contracts to small businesses.
However, the 21st CONS will also place a special emphasis on service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses. The service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses represent a special category of small businesses. Service-disabled small businesses are 51 percent owned and operated by service-disabled veterans. In a recent letter signed by the Secretary of the Air Force, Mr. Michael B. Donley, and the Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses were described as individuals who have courageously served to protect our nation and guarantee our freedom.
Air Force senior leaders are calling for a creation of opportunities for these courageous warriors. Leaders reminded Airmen that these veterans understand the mission, bringing experience, innovation, responsiveness, agility, and efficiency to the fight in air, space and cyberspace.
In 2008, the efforts of the wing Small Business office, combined with the 21st CONS, resulted in $12.4 million in contract awards to service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses. This amount represents 3.2 percent of all contracting dollars obligated by the 21st CONS and is more than double the goal for the 21st SW. The 21st SW Small Business office and 21st CONS will continue to work hand-in-hand to create even more acquisition strategies that provide maximum opportunities for service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses.
National security and the economy requires a dedicated and robust small business program. The vital role small business plays in maintaining a strong defense industrial base cannot be overstated. In this capacity, small businesses are a vanguard in the Global War on Terrorism.
The Air Force continues to benefit from the capabilities of a vital strategic partner – small businesses. Supporting contract awards to small businesses delivers a dynamic mission capability to the warfighter, and helps our country and our economy.