Commentary by Col. James Ross
50th Space Wing commander
As my time with the 50th Space Wing comes to an end, I’ve been experiencing a range of emotions. I thought I’d share a few of them with you and ask that you all do a few more things for me.
The first emotion that comes to mind is gratitude. I’m grateful that Gen. Robert Kehler, Gen. William Shelton, Lt. Gen. Larry James and Lt. Gen. Susan Helms gave Antoinette and me the opportunity to be a part of this great team again. During the past two years you have accomplished so much, and it has been an absolute joy to see you all in action innovating, perfecting and leaning forward to find creative solutions to any obstacle that gets in your way. There are less than 80 wings in the active duty Air Force, and it has been an honor and a privilege to be your commander during the past 23 months.
The second emotion that comes to mind is sadness. While the job of being your commander comes with many demands on my time, I will be sad to say goodbye to the greatest space and cyber professionals on the planet. Each and every one on the team has made important and lasting contributions to our mission. You should all be as proud of yourselves as I am of you.
The third emotion is optimism. As Antoinette and I look forward to our lives after the Air Force, we have a deep sense that some of our best days are still ahead of us. We have always tackled challenges head-on, knowing that there are good, equitable solutions to tough problems. While neither one of us knows exactly what’s going to come next, we both feel it will be rewarding, interesting and meaningful. We are also very optimistic about the future of this wing. With the talent, drive and positive teamwork you have shown in the last 23 months, we know there is no challenge too great for you. This leads me to what I ask of you as we leave.
Welcome and support Col. Bill Liquori and his family with open arms. During our turnover conversations I have bragged on the professionals working in the 50 SW. Please back me up by following his lead as soon as the guidon is passed.
Keep surpassing the status quo and continue to find new and innovative ways of getting the mission accomplished. With our diminishing resources, we need each and every one of you to find creative, legal and moral solutions to the unknown challenges that lie ahead.
Finally, continue to treat each other with dignity and respect. Our team has been shrinking since I took command in August of 2011, and we cannot afford to be ineffective because we can’t trust each other. The entire military system is based on trust: we trust our wingmen with our lives, we trust our subordinates to get their jobs done and we trust our leadership to support us and remove obstacles that prevent us from accomplishing the mission. We need to promote an environment free from harassment and discrimination of any kind, and it takes all of us to do so.
Again, thank you so much for what you have given Antoinette and me. Our only hope is that we have given you all at least as much in exchange. Keep your great positive attitudes, and never lose sight of how critical our mission is to the joint fight!