State of readiness important in expedition operations

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- An essential element of being a "Strategic Airmen" is maintaining a high state of readiness and being prepared to answer the nation's call when tasked to deploy. It is important to note that the number of deployments, average deployment tour lengths, and predeployment training requirements are on the rise. In fact, over 500 Vandenberg Hawks have deployed to 19 different countries. In reference to military training, General George S. Patton once stated that, "a pint of sweat can save a gallon of blood." While the General was referring to preparation for combat, the demands of today's dynamic expeditionary operations require that we embrace a culture of excellence and apply the same level of effort in preparing for success in accomplishing our garrison missions of space launch and range operations, as well as our personal lives, while simultaneously waging the Global War on Terror.

Our culture of excellence begins in garrison as we can only be successful abroad if we have a firm foundation at home. Thus, it is imperative that we take the time to invest in the relationships that will carry us through our time away. At its essence, this means striving to be a better son or daughter, spouse, friend, and Wingman. It also means setting our loved ones up to succeed while we are deployed. Specifically, it is important that we take the time to introduce our families to the many help agencies at their disposal, to include the Airmen Family and Readiness Center, the Hearts Apart program, and Military OneSource.
In addition, it is important that we provide our families, especially our children, with an appreciation for our profession and the fact that expeditionary operations are commensurate with our way of life. By clearly communicating expectations and making a genuine investment in the ones we love, we can prepare our families and relationships to endure the challenges that come with separation.

We must also embrace a culture of excellence in accomplishing our garrison missions of space launch and range operations, keeping in mind that our high deployment tempo means doing so with less manpower. While there is a considerable focus on expeditionary operations, these missions remain an ever important element of our national defense. Thus, Airmen remaining in garrison must rise to the challenge of shouldering greater responsibility. In addition, we all must make sure that we communicate cleary and work together to ensure a smooth hand-off of responsibilities and tasks between deploying Airmen and those remaining behind. Again, status quo simply won't suffice. We all must do our part to ensure we keep the mission on track.

Finally, we must embrace a culture of excellence in preparing ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually for the time we'll spend away. To that end, it's great to drive around base and see so many Airmen taking personal responsibility for their physical fitness. While the benefits of exercising are many, today it's an indispensable element of success in the expeditionary environment. Whether it's in the snowcapped mountains of Afghanistan or the sweltering heat of Iraq, we all must to be ready to prosecute the Global War on Terror regardless of the environment. Mentally, our efforts must be focused. We can ensure that we are free of mental distractions in combat by taking the time and necessary steps to put are personal affairs (i.e. finances, relationships, etc.) in order before we leave home. And finally, it's important that every Airman consider spiritual wellness as the stresses of combat may test them in ways they've never experience before. With that in mind, I recommend checking in with the deployed chaplain while abroad and accepting the responsibility for your spiritual life.

Its no doubt that we live in challenging times. Yet, history has proven time and again that Airmen rise to the challenge. Balancing expeditionary operations with space launch and range operations presents a formidable challenge, but I know the Vandenberg Hawks are up to it. As "Strategic Airmen," we are all in the fight. Thus, whether you are preparing to deploy or taking on more responsibility to fill the gaps while your fellow Airmen deploy, I urge you to continue to challenge yourself and strive for excellence in all you do. Remember, your extraordinary contributions the cornerstones of the best Air Force on Earth! Above All!