VAFB rises to meet new challenges

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- I take enormous pride in our launch, range and expeditionary missions, as
well as the pristine national asset that is Vandenberg Air Force Base. Fiscal 2006
is now in the books and what a year it was. 

Our 30th Space Wing and associate unit Airmen made history with an 11 for 11 launch record that included the last Titan IV (the second most accurate in the 46-year history of the program), the first West Coast Delta IV Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle and the first successful test involving a missile defense interceptor from Vandenberg. Range assets from the 30th SW along the Western Coast of the continental United States, Hawaii and beyond also contributed to unprecedented mission success. 

Lastly, in 2006, we deployed more Airmen from Vandenberg AFB in support of the Global War on Terror than at any other time in history. Whether delivering billion-dollar, one-of-a-kind payloads to orbit or taking a seat on a C-17 en route to an eight-month deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan, the thousands of Airmen assigned to Vandenberg truly made a difference and they will continue to protect our nation and, more importantly, protect our freedom throughout 2007 and beyond. 

As you know, by 2009 the Air Force will have 40,000 fewer Airmen than it has right now; bringing the total number of Airmen to just below 320,000, the lowest level since the service was formed in 1947. 

Innovative ideas throughout every organization are being solicited and implemented through programs such as Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, or AFSO 21, in order to effectively manage the loss and funnel critical resources toward re-capitalizing and modernizing our air and space fleet. In fact, Air Force Space Command's AFSO 21 team will be here at Vandenberg Nov. 6-9 reviewing our 30th SW initiatives. 

To say we are in challenging times is an understatement. 

The Air Force Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley outlined our priorities in the 2006 Air Force Posture Statement. They are: winning the global war on terror, developing and caring for Airmen, and maintenance, modernization, and recapitalization of our force. Together, we are forging a new path, establishing and sustaining a culture of excellence, and doing our part to ensure the Air Force is able to carry out its mission with unprecedented precision and lethality. 

The world is a very different place than it was just a few years ago and Vandenberg AFB is a very different place as well. What hasn't changed is our total commitment to performing our launch, range and expeditionary operations flawlessly, 24 hours a day, and supporting each other and our families with the same determination. 

As part of the effort to identify and eliminate processes and products that have simply outlived their usefulness, the Space & Missile Times will cease printed paper production and exist only in an online, Web-based format. Decreased manning and funding levels are prompting this change. The good news, however, is that the new electronic format will allow our public affairs specialists to post new and exciting stories about our Airmen in action instantaneously and in real time. 

Today's information age requires news that is timely, relevant and accurate; something that the new and improved format will surely provide. I'm proud of the entire public affairs team for publishing an awesome newspaper that served its purpose for so many years and for making the change, leading the effort and truly making a good product even better in a way that makes sense. 

If you have an idea that will save time and resources while still accomplishing the mission, remember to go to the Vandenberg Intranet and click on the innovation button.
Your suggestion will go straight to me with zero repercussions or criticism for thinking outside of the box. 

Stay safe this weekend. As always, think before you act, designate a driver if you go out and be a great wingman. We're a team that suffers together when things go wrong and celebrates together when things go right. Keep the team in mind as you're out and about this weekend.