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Leaders share messages, priorities at AFA Symposium

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Let me begin by congratulating SpaceX, NASA, NOAA, all our mission partners and "Team Patrick-Cape" on their picture-perfect launch last week of NASA's Deep Space Climate Observatory -- known as the DSCOVR mission -- from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Great job by the entire TEAM!

Let's switch gears and share some important messages and priorities we took with us from last week's Air Force Association's annual Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition held in Orlando.

45th Space Wing Chief Master Sgt. Craig Neri, myself, several other senior leaders and about 30 members of our Wing spent almost two full days listening to the words of advice from our Air Force leaders.

I think I can speak for the Sharks who were there:  what they heard there was a re-confirmation of our three main priorities  -- (1) 100% Mission Success, (2) Ignite Innovation, and (3) Invest in People. They also heard about the vital importance of "Resource Responsibility," one of our most-important commitments. 

"Our budget proposal actually busts the sequestration caps," Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said. "For the Air Force this represents the difference between an Air Force that our combatant commanders require, and our nation expects, as compared to an Air Force that with $10 billion less, will not be able to meet the National Defense Strategy - period."

She also talked about something that's been in the headlines for the people who live and work here on the Space Coast -- and for us here in the 45th Space Wing -- when she discussed open competition in the space business. 

"In my experience, both in government and industry, competition always drives down costs and improves innovation," she said. "We want both. We want less cost and we want more innovation. We also want a third very important thing - mission assurance."

Great job Team; from where I sit, we are doing what it takes to meet the SECAF's intent head on.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, who visited us here recently with Air Force Chief Master Sgt. James A. Cody, talked passionately about hitting the reset button on some of his priorities.

"We've also been refocusing on our core values," General Welsh said. "We've kind of been reminded that if these three simple words with elegant meaning, [integrity, service, excellence] if they're really going to be foundational values for our service then they have to be cared for and sustained. They have to be embraced; they have to be discussed over and over and over."

"Cared for and sustained," the general said.

Stop and think about that for a minute. This is exactly why we insist on the "deliberate development of leaders" and demand "a culture of respect" in every corner of this Wing, and specifically why we will talk about 2015 being the  "Year of Connection" every chance we get.

When it comes to hitting the reset button on innovation, our Air Force Chief of Staff had this to say.

"As the leading service proponent of innovation, we were born from it," he said. "It should be in our DNA, and I think it is - we're just kind of hesitant to brag about it. Let's talk this up. Every Airman should be, can be, I believe must be innovative if we're to succeed in the future," said General Welsh.

"Commanders can't be intimidated by that; supervisors shouldn't be scared of it. We ought to be embracing it."

So continue to do as General Welsh is directing -- focus on the mission, embrace our heritage, connect to our core values, and continue to innovate.  Our future depends on it!

Stay Focused Sharks!