Vision Quest

  • Published
  • By Col. Rob Cook
  • 319th Air Base Wing vice commander
Many of you were probably surprised when Col. Lewis challenged Airmen to come forward and recite the vision and mission before the Wing Run Oct. 1 on that chilly fall morning.  Why would he do that?  Why is it so important to him that Airmen know these statements?  Aren't they just a bunch of words that get put on paper early in a commander's tenure, then filed away so we can get back to work, only to be dusted off and changed when the next commander arrives?  Before I attempt to answer those questions and convey the importance of vision and mission statements, let's take a look at the statements and the rationale behind them.       

Vision:  One Grand Forks Air Force Base...Defending Freedom!

Rationale:  Grand Forks Air Force Base is unique in that multiple Department of Defense and U.S. Government agencies come together to accomplish our combined mission set--Air Mobility Command's 319th Air Base Wing, Air Combat Command's 69th Reconnaissance Group, U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection, North Dakota Air National Guard's 119th Wing Detachment, and U. S. Air Force Space Command's 10th Space Warning Squadron at Cavalier Air Force Station--as "One Grand Forks Air Force Base."  Through this diverse mission set we are "Defending Freedom" daily at the local, national and global levels.  Defending Freedom in our vision also links us to our heritage and the Latin motto, "Defensores Libertatis,"on the 319th Air Base Wing patch.

Mission:  Proud Warrior Airmen delivering air, space and cyberspace capabilities to the Combatant Commands...preserving the American Dream.

Rationale:  We are Proud Airmen because we are committed to and serve a cause--the support and defense of our Constitution--that is bigger than ourselves.  We are Warrior Airmen who embody the ideals of The Airman's Creed and live and uphold the Air Force Core Values 24/7/365.  We deliver capabilities across all Air Force domains--air, space and cyberspace--on a daily basis to combatant commands.  We support both regional and functional combatant commands at home through support to the 69th Reconnaissance Group's Global Hawk operations, operating the 319th Communications Squadron's High Frequency Global Communications System, maintaining 319th Air Base Wing's Airfield and Facilities, providing installation defense to the 10th Space Warning Squadron, and support to Customs and Border Protection operations.  We also support combatant commands abroad through Air Expeditionary Force deployments on an enduring basis.  Collectively, our efforts encompass all five Air Force mission areas:  Air and Space Superiority; Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance; Rapid Global Mobility; Global Strike; and Command and Control.  Finally, we are patriots preserving the American Dream.  We acknowledge the diversity and value that every Airman brings to Grand Forks Air Force Base, and collectively, we support and preserve our individual hopes.   

It has been about a month since these statements were made public.  I hope, for a majority of you, this is not the first time seeing these statements.  Under the direction of Col. Lewis, wing and group leaders crafted the vision and mission statements, sent them to select groups of Airmen in the wing for feedback, and then developed the statements above.  As for my original questions, vision and mission statements are important because they form the governing ideas of an organization that, along with the Air Force Core Values, answer the "What?" "Why?" and "How?"  I cannot explain this any better than how Peter Senge did in his book, The Fifth Discipline--The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization.  The vision is the "What?"--the picture of the future we seek to create.  The mission answers the "Why do we exist?" and details our larger sense of purpose and what we specifically contribute to the defense of our nation.  Finally, adherence to our core values detail how we want to act while executing our mission, on the road to achieving our vision.

I ask that each of you take time to learn, know and commit to our vision and mission statements.  Each of us has an individual vision of what we want our future to be.  Each of us has a specific role, or mission, the Air Force has asked us to play.  Finally, as Airmen, we are all expected to live by the ideals of our Air Force Core Values.  This is why Col. Lewis publicly challenged the wing last week on the vision and mission.  They need to be discussed regularly in order to be understood and accepted as an integral part of the wing and base.  I ask that each of you reflect on your personal vision and mission to see if they align with the 319th Air Base Wing's vision and mission statements.  If they do, great!  If they don't, you need to have a discussion with your supervisor, commander or mentor to figure out the reason(s).  In the end the goal is for all of us to share in and be committed to the same thing.  The right vision and mission statements are just the beginning!  

Reference:  Senge, Peter M., "The Fifth Discipline--The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization," Currency-DoubleDay Books, New York (2006), p. 207-209.