Fourteenth Air Force commander unveils new intent, strategic plan

  • Published
  • By Capt Nicholas Mercurio
  • 14th Air Force Public Affairs

Early on in his second year as Commander, 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic), Air Force Space Command; and Commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space, U.S. Strategic Command, Lt. Gen. David Buck issued an updated Commander’s Strategic Intent and Strategic Plan.


The documents provide the commander’s guidance and intent for how 14th AF (AFSTRAT) will conduct operations and reflect the realities of the rapidly evolving strategic landscape, accounting for perturbations in the geopolitical environment and technological advancements across the enterprise.  Each document, while being aligned with strategic guidance from National Command Authorities and Higher Headquarters, confers a unique operational imperative to the men and women of 14th AF.


To expand on that imperative, Buck sat down for a brief interview which appears in the following:


What drove these updates to your guidance?

I’ve been in the space business a long time and over the past year in this job I’ve had a front-row seat to how dynamic and challenging our operating environment has become, how quickly things can evolve; there are no longer any routine days in our business.  What I immediately took away was that it is our operational imperative to keep pace.  But even more than keeping up, as Airmen in the information age we must be postured to adapt – out-think and out-act potential adversaries in dynamic and fast-paced environments.  I envision a diverse and close-knit team – military, government civilian, contractor; active, reserve and guard – driving relentlessly forward, thinking in a Joint-context, pushing the envelope to maintain our edge today on future battlefields, while empowered at all levels to make the decisions necessary to achieve our goals.


What are your top priorities?

My priorities remain the same and are nested within the priorities of Air Force Space Command and U.S. Strategic Command: Win today’s fight; prepare for tomorrow’s fight; take care of our Airmen and families.  In order to execute these priorities we must be resilient, think and act fast, and embrace news ideas and innovation.  We must also commit to continuing the push to normalize the space domain – when we talk about space as being different it diminishes the speed at which we can move forward.  To aid the team in successfully championing my priorities I have also rolled out a new Vision for the command which should serve as a roadmap to where we are headed: “Agile, Bold, Innovative and Joint-minded Airmen, Leading America’s Space Force Today and Tomorrow.”  I need everyone prepared because we are about to go fast, turning that vision into a reality.


What changes can we expect to see across the command?

First let me tell you what will remain the same, and that is our mission to provide combat-ready space forces and capabilities to execute theater and global operations.  A big part of our ability to accomplish our mission will be continuing the push to adopt and expand the Space Mission Force construct, and the corresponding warfighter mentality it demands, across our operational wings.  I know this is a tall order and folks have been running extremely hard and it shows, the progress and lessons learned thus far have been nothing short of spectacular.  Keep pushing!


As far as what will change, we are continuing to evolve our space [battle management command and control] BMC2 capabilities, and that is taking shape in several parallel lines of effort.  First is our support to the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center, which has evolved from a test and experimentation bed to a joint and interagency operations center leveraging co-located interagency and IC elements to aid on-orbit activity characterization and provide enhanced Indications and Warning in defense of the space Joint Operating Area.  Second, as the JICSpOC takes on the space defense mission, the JSpOC is sharpening its focus on strategic NC3/missile warning and theater operations--delivering tailored, proactive space effects to the joint and coalition warfighter with increased emphasis on integration within combatant commands’ campaign plans across the globe.  Enveloping both these initiatives is a Joint Emergent Operational Need effort that will prototype and provide initial capabilities to the JICSpOC over the next two years.  The results of completed and ongoing JICSpOC experimentation, coupled with near-term BMC2 prototype development and fielding, will drive the future enterprise space BMC2 requirement set and the associated delivery priorities for both the JSpOC and the JICSpOC. 


What keeps you up at night?

Nothing keeps me up at night, I have an all-star team working 24/7 to protect and defend the space assets vital to our national security.  But I will tell you what I think about every single day.  I think about our responsibility to ensure that our bravest men and women are never alone on the battlefield; if space is a light switch, we are making sure it always works when the warfighter downrange turns it on.  Even broader than that, though, I think about the billions of people around the world who rely on space capabilities every day.  Space enables our modern way of life, and we are committed to preserving the long-term safety, security and sustainability of the domain for all.