Tech. Sgt. Ray Bowden
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
Gen. C. Robert Kehler, Air Force Space Command commander, visited the 21st Space Wing Sept. 9 to dine with Airmen at the Aragon Dining Facility, tour the wing’s new mental health and honor guard facilities, and receive a wing update brief from Col. Stephen Whiting, 21st SW commander.
General Kehler also held a commander’s call at the base auditorium where he discussed a variety of topics including what he called Peterson’s “classic space mission.”
“Your mission is critically important as the 21st Space Wing provides the bulk of information concerning space,” the general told the audience. “Your mission has gotten more and more important over the years — it’s not simply missile warning or tracking objects in orbit, but being a crucial part of the joint warfighter.”
In addition, General Kehler discussed two AFSPC objectives: Nuclear surety as it relates to transitioning an ICBM force to Global Strike Command and cyber security as it relates to the recent stand-up of the 24th Air Force at Lackland AFB, Texas.
“We’ve been working hard to restore our nuclear enterprise,” he said, in reference to various incidents involving nuclear components that occurred between 2005 and 2007. “Perfection is noLLL.t a goal in the nuclear enterprise realm — it’s the standard. Global Strike Command will help us maintain our excellence in the nuclear realm.”
Referring to the recent stand-up of the 24th Air Force, the general said AFSPC is now accountable for all Air Force cyber operations, a responsibility he cautioned Airmen not to take lightly.
“When you log on to your computer, you enter a combat zone,” he said. “We know there are cyber threats out there, but turning off your computer is not a defense. That would be the same as not flying our planes because we face the possibility of getting shot down.”
The general fielded questions from the audience on topics ranging from the Air Force’s new physical fitness guidelines to its current deployment rate.
The idea behind the new PT policy was to address real issues and concerns raised during deployments, General Kehler said. There are stressors in a deployed environment that test us physically. The new fitness program emphasizes and places the responsibility for meeting and maintaining fitness standards 365 days a year on each individual Airman.
General Kehler said he doesn’t anticipate changes to the Air Force’s deployment tempo in the near future, particularly for Airmen assigned to deployment bands.
“I suspect that for the Air Force, deployments won’t look too different within one-to-five years,” he said. “However, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and the Secretary of the Air Force are spending a lot of time working to lower the rate of deployments. In fact, there are a lot of people at various levels working on this.”
The general also discussed current Air Force budget issues, explaining that fiduciary problems are experienced at all levels of the Department of Defense.
To help negate the waste of tax dollars, General Kehler asked 21st SW Airmen to scrutinize their daily processes.
“It’s crucial we take a hard look at what we do every day and make sure it’s part of the mission,” he said. “If what you’re doing does not positively impact the mission or wastes tax dollars, bring it up to your leadership.”
General Kehler served as 21st SW commander from August 2000 through May 2002, a period during which he said he witnessed the “awesome capability” of Peterson Airmen.
“There were many lessons to be learned following 9/11,” he said “I watched this wing transition from peacetime to war in an instant. You were tasked to do amazing things following 9/11 and you performed exceptionally well. We still face enormous challenges, but 21st Space Wing Airmen continue to bring their best to the fight.”
Colonel Whiting was pleased to host the AFSPC commander’s second official wing visit.
“General Kehler iWWWWs wholly engaged with the activities and priorities of the 21st Space Wing,” said Colonel Whiting. “It was an honor to host his visit and highlight the improvements we’ve made to our facilities. Our continual progress as a wing and as a combat ready force would not be possible if not for the commitment of our Airmen and their families.”