From the Top: The Essential Key to Success is Our Philosophy on Training

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Cotton
  • Commander, 45th Space Wing
Our mission is "One Team... Delivering Assured Space Launch, Range, and Combat Capabilities for the Nation." In order to execute this mission, it is pivotal that our crews, operators, support teams, indeed everyone across the wing, be properly trained. Our space launch mission is an extremely important one that ensures our deployers downrange have instant access to the tools that help keep our nation safe.

The essential key, therefore, to our continued success in the 45th Space Wing is the adaptation of my philosophy on training to meet mission objectives as we reshape to fit a shrinking budget and bounce back from the loss of position cuts to meet mandated end-strengths.

My philosophy on training is challenging and performance oriented. Here are four models that we will develop as we formulate a new synergy: set a routine for training; retool our Wing Training Day; launch teambuilding classes and training events to generate energy and participation as a group; and integrate resilience training in our daily work schedules.

First, leaders at all levels will "integrate training with day-to-day work center operations and consider trainer and equipment availability, training opportunities, schedules, etc." (AFI 36-2201, Air Force Training Program, paragraph Daily organizational work requirements could and should be seen as excellent opportunities to provide essential on the spot training throughout the unit. This training will provide a stable work environment while ensuring mission success.

Second, Wing Training Day is an integral part of individual development and unit mission success in a time which demands excellence from every 45th Space Wing member. The return on this small investment will yield the exponential rewards of increased mission capability and a deployment-ready team. All levels of leadership must emphasize the importance of a continuous need for training to assure attainment of mission goals and readiness. Therefore, it is imperative squadron commanders and supervisors are actively involved in their unit's training program. Squadron commanders will ensure all personnel who are present for duty (i.e., not TDY, on leave, or on quarters) or not "mission essential" attend Wing Training Day events. Unit education and training managers will assist squadron commanders by scheduling unit specific training, tracking attendance and training event completion. Individuals, too, must recognize the importance of continuous, regular and challenging training, and personal responsibility is crucial to the success of this program and mission. That said, Wing Training Day events will be considered mandatory or scheduled formations, and individuals can only be excused by their squadron commander.

Third, Arnold Bateman defines teambuilding as " effort in which a team studies its own process of working together and acts to create a climate that encourages and values the contributions of team members. Their energies are directed toward problem solving, task effectiveness and maximizing the use of all member's resources to achieve the team's purpose."

A solid team building environment recognizes it is not possible to fully separate one's performance from those of others. In the words of Henry Ford, "Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success."

Finally, we recently paused operations to participate in Air Force Space Command's Fall 2011 Wingman Day activities to focus on building individual resiliency skills. Resilience is defined by the Department of Defense as "The ability to withstand, recover and/or grow in the face of stressors and changing demands" (AFSPC Fall 2011 Wingman Day Guidance). We face stressors and changing demands in our lives each day. By mixing resilience training in our daily operations (or real-world encounters), we will teach our bodies and minds to tolerate and function effectively during stressful times. As of publication date, Team Patrick lost one of its active duty Airmen as a result of suicide. While investigations are still ongoing, this event is just one more reminder for all of us to watch out for one another and continue to be a wingman, even through personal adversity.

In the 45th Space Wing, we employ the finest professionals in the world. We must continue to plan and execute realistic, demanding and meaningful training, as well as provide training opportunities in order to maintain a continued level of excellence. In keeping with our tradition of excellence, I will close by welcoming our new commanders to the Shark Family: 45th Mission Support Group Commander, Col. Patrick Donley; 45th Contracting Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Tommy Gates; 45th Security Forces Squadron Commander, Maj .Nate Puwalowski; 45th Force Support Squadron Commander, Maj. Gregory Jones; 45th Operations Group, Det. 1, Commander, Maj. Robert Jertberg; and 45th Operations Group, Det. 2, Commander, Maj. Michael Campbell.

Keep pushing, Sharks!