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Off to Capstone feeling confident

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Whew! What a couple of weeks. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard on last week's simultaneous visits from Michael Wynne, Secretary of the Air Force, and Gen. Kevin Chilton, commander of Air Force Space Command. Thanks also to those who pitched in on this week's deployment exercise.

A special thanks to Lt. Col. Vince Cassara, the project officer for the visits, our protocol staff and our Services Division troops. As for the exercise, hats off to our IG team for organizing and running it and to those of you who "deployed and fought" with positive attitudes. You are the hearts and souls of our expeditionary Air Force. All of your efforts are greatly appreciated and were well worth the invested time and attention.

Both Secretary Wynne and General Chilton were extremely impressed with our bases and our AFSO21 initiatives, as well as with the men and women of Patrick AFB and Cape Canaveral AFS. Kudos to our local wing leadership for helping me identify more than 100 areas where the 45th Space Wing can become even more efficient. Thanks to their intellect, drive and enthusiasm we delivered big-time on a tasker directly from Secretary Wynne. He came here specifically to hear about our AFSO21 program, so I can say without hesitation that the 45th Space Wing Sharks are leading the Air Force's charge on AFSO21. That is a tribute to each of you and I ask that you keep our momentum going - especially since I will be out of pocket for the next several weeks.

Starting next week, I will be attending the mandatory Capstone Course, affectionately know as "General Officers' Charm School." But really, it is much more than a charm school. All rising general and flag officers are required to attend by law. Its focus is to ensure understanding of joint doctrine and how joint, interagency and multi-national operations support national strategic goals and objectives. This involves visiting key U.S. military commands in the U.S. and abroad.

Although this curriculum sounds exciting and challenging, quite frankly, I do not wish to be away from here at this critical time as we ramp up for a major inspection, have several major launch campaigns heating up and push toward the next phase of our AFSO21 initiative. I would much rather be here in the trenches with you. Fortunately, I will return before the scheduled start of our inspection and the first operational Delta IV Heavy launch.

In my absence, I am sure this wing will not skip a beat and will continue to thrive under the outstanding leadership of Col. Tom Bouthiller. Please give him, our group commanders, our executive director and our command chief master sergeant all the support and dedication you give me. You will all be out of sight, but not out of mind. See you in about six weeks. Go Sharks!