Military News

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

AFSPC commander returned to discuss expectations

by Jennifer Thibault
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

12/15/2015 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Air Force Space Command's leader returned to his former wing stomping grounds to share his expectations and vision.

General John Hyten, former 50th Space Wing commander, engaged a wide ranging group of current wing members to discuss the way forward on critical game changing initiatives being executed by Team Five-O, leading with the Space Mission Force construct.

The Space Mission Force program will develop space experts like their air counterparts enabling them to stay in the "cockpit" or operational side of the house for as long as possible.
"The ultimate goal of any weapon system is to fight through the threat and deliver on the other side," said Hyten.

The expertise to be able to deliver on this goal is limited by the current construct that transitions seasoned space professionals to day staff positions rather than "staying in the fight" and influencing daily operations with their acquired knowledge and experience.

Though big pieces will roll out this spring, the general cautioned the audience about his expectations.

"It's not going to be perfect.  We're not going to be able to do everything on the first day, it's going to be an iterative approach," he said.

At the wing where space and cyber intersect, the general followed his SMF lead with a discussion on the cyber squadrons of the future.

Currently the majority of the command's cyber budget is spent on network operations, read communications systems that support administrative functions such as email.

"As an Air Force our mission is to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyber," the general reminded the crowd.  "Email is not in our mission statement."

He explained that as a command we need to do more to protect and defend in the cyber domain like we do the other two domains.

"The wing here will lead the command in figuring it out; and again, I'm not expecting perfection but I am expecting your best efforts all along the way," he said.

Following this discussion the general opened the floor to questions.

First Lt. Nathaniel Lee, 50th Operations Support Squadron, led the way wondering how to meet the general's expectations in the current resource-constrained environment.
The first way is by clearly identifying what is a military unique mission that must be accomplished by an Airman.

"Flying a satellite doesn't need to be an Airman; or a person for that matter," Hyten said.  "However defending and taking the fight to the enemy, delivering effects on the ground anytime, anyplace is."

Generally, he said we are getting resources and we have to be smart about how we apply them to mature technologies.

"The main [limiting factor] is people.  The Air Force is half the size it was when I came in, but we'll never get all that we need.  So we have to figure out how to do it; and identifying military unique missions and positions will help."

Subsequent questions also touched on the manpower piece.

"There will be no new manpower, we must repurpose our Airmen -- for me this includes active duty, reserve, guard and civilians," he said.

The 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Zack Owen, followed with a question about offense.

"If the wing could harvest bodies, do you see an opportunity for an offensive space control squadron in the 50th Space Wing?" he asked.

The general explained that squadrons will continue to be designed around weapons systems as they are now.  He added we need to get away from being special because "we're space or cyber."

"We are Airmen who do missions in space and cyber," he said.  "And we need to posture our offense and defense to have them available and executable just as they are in other domains."

Looking to the future, the general explained the audience's participation.

"I didn't hold an [operations group] call, this was open to the wing and that's because everyone in the wing is part of mission success.  We're putting more pressure across the board and it will take the whole wing to be successful with these initiatives," he said.

He encouraged the audience to keep sharing its feedback, to route issues through the chain.

"I can fix a lot of things, but I need people to tell me what's broken," he said.

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