Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Wing commander unveils updated mission priorities

by Monica Mendoza

21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Col. Stephen Whiting, 21st Space Wing commander, had much to cover in his Nov. 13 commander’s call.

On his mind were the wing’s vision, mission and priorities, Peterson’s base transformation, and Airmen’s attention to personal and base security.

“It’s a terrific organization and the Airmen are dedicated to the mission — they are dedicated to the support activities that we provide to the entire base and the other mission partners that are here, it’s a honor to be associated with them,” he said.

Colonel Whiting unveiled updated wing vision, mission and priorities. The changes to the mission and priorities are not radical, but important, he said. The first priority is for the wing to be mission ready; second, for the wing to provide superior support; third, for the wing to develop and deploy Airmen; and finally, for the wing’s Airmen to emphasize compliance and improvement.

“We are America’s space superiority wing,” he said. “We in the United States will use our space system when and where we need to. We can protect space systems that we have and we can deny space systems that others want to use.”

The 21st SW is unique, Colonel Whiting said. It is the largest wing geographically and organizationally and has a workforce of more than 5,000. Colonel Whiting called Peterson “the mother ship” of the wing’s organization, with its 27 locations in five different countries.

“It’s always a challenge as we have people across the world but it’s nice to talk to folks here at Peterson,” said Colonel Whiting, who is currently at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., to learn more about the 7th Space Warning Squadron, one of the many GSUs belonging to the 21st SW.

“We don’t always see them but we certainly think about them,” he said.

Colonel Whiting said the 21st SW’s mission is to conduct precise and disciplined missile warning, missile defense and space control operations; professionally operate, support and protect its installations while teaming with mission partners; and develop, deploy and care for Warrior Airmen who defend America and its Allies. That means security is of the utmost importance, he said.

He is concerned about the increase in the number of times that classified information has been sent out through e-mail. This leak of information is called a classified message incident and so far in 2009, there have been 12 CMIs within the wing — that is two more than in 2007 and 2008 combined.

Colonel Whiting said everyone has to be on guard in cyberspace. When a person puts their CAC card in and logs on, they are entering a battlefield, he said.

“Let’s stop and minimize the number of CMI incidents, the trend is going in the wrong direction,” Colonel Whiting said. “We are wasting dollars, we are wasting time and we are wasting resources.”

When classified information gets out in the text of an e-mail or by posting on a shared drive, computers have to be wiped clean and computer technicians spend hours working on a single incident. Each CMI costs about $25,000 to clean up and an average of 12 people do not have access to their computer for 84 hours during that time. So far in 2009, CMIs for the 21st SW and all of Peterson’s mission partners have cost $1.5 million, said 1st Lt. Mark Manglicmot, 21st Communications Squadron operational flight commander.

“It is equivalent to losing two people out of your unit for an entire year,” Lieutenant Manglicmot said.

This year, the Air Force celebrates the Year of the Air Force Family. There are a number of programs on Peterson AFB to help families, Colonel Whiting said. This month, for example, Tierra Vista Communities, the housing community on base, announced that it has opened 92 homes. By mid-December, there will be 24 additional houses opened.

“The base community is developing in a way that will make everyone want to live on base in the future,” Colonel Whiting said.

The Year of the Air Force Family is an opportunity to review existing family programs and fill in gaps, if needed, Colonel Whiting said.

“When I say family, I’m not excluding single Airmen,” Colonel Whiting said.

He encourages Airmen to look closely at the programs offered by the Airman and Family Readiness Center, to look at policy and programs, and to give an honest critique with the goal of filling in gaps.

Finally, the commander hit a personal safety message and told Airmen of his new pet peeve: distracted drivers.

“I drive up and down Powers Boulevard and see folks texting away while they drive,” he said.

A new Colorado law takes effect Dec. 1 that makes it illegal to text while operating a motor vehicle. Violations will be considered a Class A traffic infraction, punishable by a fine of $50 for a first offense and $100 on a second offense.

He asked Airmen to stop sending and reading text messages while they drive; set the GPS before they start driving; and choose a station on the multi-station satellite radio before leaving the parking lot.

“Science tells us now that (distractions) are worse than drinking and driving, you have got to be disciplined, you and your family, about those distractions in your car.”

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