What is the mission?

  • Published
  • By Colonel Robert L. Stephenson
  • 49 Maintenance Group
60 years...what a long way we've come! From the P-38 Lightning to the F-22A Raptor, and from General Carl A. Spaatz to General T. Michael Moseley, the technology and leaders may have changed, but the mission endures. The mission of the Air Force requires the service of professional Airmen around the globe performing a multitude of honorable tasks. I'm privileged to serve along side every Airmen to accomplish this important mission. But, just exactly what is, "the mission?"

The mission of the Air Force is not merely to fly aerospace vehicles. All other activities are just as important and are an equal link in the mission chain; to not believe this is misguided logic and/or destructive arrogance. While there may be a missileer at the controls of an intercontinental ballistic missile, or a pilot at the controls of a flying machine, there are numerous Airmen serving directly/indirectly to enable those tasks. Aircrew and ground crew members, fuels specialists, life support technicians, administrators, communicators, cops, airfield managers, schedulers, base support personnel, MWR troops, "dirt boys", "cable/wire dogs," and dining hall specialists all have a stake in "pickling a bomb," launching a missile or jet, or delivering a load of troops. Each profession is as important as the next and contributes equally to mission accomplishment. It's important for all Airmen to understand this principle. When we do not believe this principle, we erode our collective sense of mission and undermine the true potential of teamwork in generating air and space power.

Air and space power involves many functions. As a recent Air Force Recruiting Service commercial states, "it's not just about pilots and planes." Air and space power is not flying airplanes or dropping bombs; it is not flying a satellite; it is not defending or operating a base; it is not healing patients; it is not testing a system; it is not fixing a jet. In my view, air and space power is a blend of people, processes, organizations and technology to provide desired effects to a combatant commander. Taken separately, these functions operate as ineffective singular entities with potentially little to no effect. Taken together, these functions provide a synergy of capabilities that can project Global Air and Space Power for America in the truest sense of the words. This synergy defines "the mission."