Commentary by Col. Jonathan Webb
50th Mission Support Group commander
The adage, “Where you stand, depends upon where you sit,” describes how many in our Air Force carry out their day-to-day missions. As technicians focus on perfecting tasks within our specific specialty, we progress in the Air Force within the proverbial stovepipes of our career fields and have little opportunity to understand the larger Air Force, in addition to the missions and operations of our joint and coalition partners. As professional Airmen in today’s 21st Century Air Force, it is imperative that each of us broaden our horizons and understand not only more about our Wingmen in other squadrons, groups and wings, but also gain greater knowledge about how our Air Force contributes to our nation’s defense.
As members of Schriever AFB, we have a unique perspective. The missions executed by our 50th Operations Group and 50th Network Operations Group provide space-based and cyber capabilities that support all facets of our nation’s defense establishment. With a basic understanding of our wing’s mission and the space operations squadrons, it is easy to understand how our operators are crucial in today’s fight, and are leading the path for tomorrow’s Air Force, ensuring we maintain superiority of the true “high ground” — space.
Mission support professionals, like those in the 50th Mission Support Group, can take our skills to almost any installation. Many of these skills transcend service barriers, and we find a sizable percentage of deployment taskings in support of the Army and sometimes the Marines. Unfortunately, many of us remain entrenched within our stovepipes and focus solely on the mission at hand while failing to take these opportunities to see the bigger picture.
Knowing how our personal day-to-day activities support our unit’s mission, but also that of the group, wing, Air Force and Department of Defence, can provide each of us with the right perspective. Keeping in mind that our Air Force continues to shrink in size while demand for our mission capability continues to increase, every single Airman, including our professional civilians and contractor partners, are crucial to mission success. Recognizing how each of us contribute to the bigger picture makes us more effective as it gives greater meaning to each day’s task, while enabling us to recognize and respect those around us.
I was told many times as a young company grade officer that the most important job in the Air Force is the one you have today. While that is true, the corollary to that statement is that hopefully everyone else in the Air Force believes that same thing. We need to do our best at accomplishing our respective missions, but also understand that what we do, or do not do, affects others. Putting on the blinders and executing our missions without understanding or regarding those around us is a recipe for disaster. Understand where you fit in and how your contributions affect the bigger Air Force mission. Keeping the right perspective helps everyone strive for total mission success.