Meeting our challenges

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Susan Helms
  • 45th SW commander
Greetings! I would like to thank the entire Wing and our Mission Partners for the hard work to help send off the Space Shuttle last week - and for what you are about to do to send off the Atlas V launch late this week! I sense that our 'dry spell' is over, and that the launches will now come at us fast and furious, based on the upcoming schedule for the next six months. 

However, during launch preparations over the last few weeks, there was a Space and Missile Systems Center event that was also important to the 45th. A few select Sharks (who were not tied to Shuttle launch operations) attended a critical week-long meeting at Los Angeles AFS to evaluate the end-to-end task of ordering, acquiring and processing launch boosters that deliver critical satellites to orbit. Included in that massive scope were process evaluations that tied in safety and range operations required to support the launch enterprise. 

This was a major team event, and included our counterparts from the 30th Space Wing, members of 14th AF, SMC and HQ Air Force Space Command, as well as additional stakeholders such as the National Reconnaisance Office. With an eye toward streamlining the enterprise, we also brought in our contract partners, because they already have extensive experience in how to reduce process waste. This event was an eye opener for all involved, and yes, it was under the umbrella of Air Force Smart Operations 21, our Air Force initiative to improve our business.

 As I've mentioned before in a previous article, our journey to fight wasteful work began with a challenge from the Secretary of the Air Force last fall. Since then, we have made amazing progress! Many of you have directly participated and have been our best 'intel' sources for rooting out and attacking pockets of useless work - work that everyone feels they have to do but they don't know why. We have already made great strides to cut out some of that wasted time, so that you can be better focused on what's really important. Special kudos to the Range Safety Systems Team and key participants of our Range Operations Team - "Stupendous!" was the comment of the SecAF himself when I briefed him on their progress late last month! 

As evidenced by the stunning achievements to date, we are leading AFSPC in its AFSO21 journey and the Air Force is looking to our efforts to be their showcase on how to tackle very large and complex programs and deliver a smarter operation for the 21st century. All of AFSPC will be heavily invested over the next years in making our mission operate at peak performance. I need all Sharks to be on the lookout for things you are doing that you know we could do better, because I believe this AFSO21 business is 'for real'. We've already demonstrated that it works, because YOU analyze the problems, and YOU find the solutions! Thanks to all for supporting this tremendous, ground-breaking effort. Go Sharks!