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What's your high ground: Innovation, discipline

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 21st Space Wing Airmen have a secret to providing missile warning and protection to the nation, supporting six installations, and ensuring personnel readiness, all with dwindling resources: innovation and discipline.

Col. Chris Crawford, 21st SW commander, recast the wing mission and vision to highlight the great things the wing's Airmen do every day.

By applying great innovation and discipline, wing Airmen have continued to dominate their high ground.

"I'm very impressed by what I have seen so far, and want to forge ahead, ever improving the wing and its mission," Crawford said.

Crawford detailed how Airmen continue to complete the mission using innovation and discipline, answering the following questions about the wing mission:

How do Airmen establish and sustain a culture of innovation and discipline?
We have to constantly review our processes and look for new or better ways to accomplish them. One method is to hold what we call a Rapid Improvement Event where we essentially draw a map of our process, identify and eliminate waste and then execute the streamlined process. We can gain great improvements and reduce many man-hours using this tool, but must always ensure discipline and safety while innovating. Supervisors can help change our culture and instill innovation by tapping into the vast talent we have in our wing and supporting improvement ideas and initiatives.

For example, in the workcenter, ask your folks to identify waste or activities that do not add value to your mission. They can also identify more efficient ways to achieve the same output, but using fewer man-hours.

What is the wing doing to optimize use of resources?
Our wing has been very busy looking for opportunities, identifying problems and assembling teams to increase efficiency and effectiveness across all the groups. For example we saved millions in contract costs while reducing the amount of time it takes to do work and massively reduced energy consumption at Thule Air Base while gaining funding and constructing new dorms.

All of the recent changes in our budget and manpower mean we cannot afford to let up on great ideas and teamwork to eliminate waste and innovate across Peterson and all our geographically separated units. I challenge you all to use your talents and ensure our wing dominates the high ground! You can submit and innovative idea by going to the 21st SW SharePoint page and clicking on the link labeled "Submit and Innovation/Idea."

How will the wing ensure discipline across critical processes?
The 21st SW exercise program assists the wing in ensuring discipline across critical processes by conducting quarterly exercises that evaluate mission essential tasks in the areas of emergency management, deployment of forces, and compliance with Headquarters Air Force, Air Force Space Command, and 14th Air Force guidance. These exercises identify unit deficiencies and recommended improvement areas allowing the wing to focus fix actions where needed and maintain an environment of continuous process improvement. All deficiencies are analyzed by unit experts to determine root cause(s) and possible solutions. Unit commanders then select the best corrective measure and ensure long term fix actions are put in place and maintained. The wing commander also reviews unit steps to fix deficiencies through monthly updates and the eventual closure of deficiency write-ups. Additionally, the exercise program identifies strengths, professional performers and teams. This identification of innovative processes and personnel allows units to benchmark activities based upon the best practices and performances of sister units.

How will the wing meet Air Force energy reduction goals?
The 21st SW has a strategic energy plan that improves our current infrastructure, improves our future infrastructure, manages costs, and raises awareness and accountability for energy consumption. The energy team is currently working several projects to improve the HVAC and lighting systems on Peterson and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. Cape Cod Air Force Station has done an amazing job of using incentives from the local utility company to make energy efficiency upgrades across the base, saving more than $130,000 per year.

The wing has requested more than $100 million to improve and consolidate the infrastructure at Thule AB. This will significantly reduce energy consumption and costs as well as improve the quality of life at a very cold military base. The plan will reduce the square footage of facility space at Thule by 35 percent, thus reducing the amount of space that needs to be heated. Part of the request includes working with the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency to get $58 million in Energy Conservation Investment Program funds over the next four years to construct new facilities for the civil engineering shops at Thule. This replaces several large inefficient buildings with state of the art facilities designed for the harsh arctic environment and saves 1.2 million gallons of fuel annually. We are also improving efficiency of Thule's power plant by recovering the heat produced in the generation of electricity and using it to heat the base. This alone will save almost 700,000 gallons of fuel per year, at an annual savings of $2.7 million.

What other ways is the wing being good stewards of the environment?
Executive Order 13514 has placed requirements to reduce green house gas emissions and reduce consumption of fossil fuels. In order to address this, a key strategic component of the wing's energy plan is to identify and expand renewable energy options. Currently, Cape Cod AFS is set to receive funding this year to construct two large scale wind turbines (1.6 megawatts each) on base. The electricity generated from the wind turbines will be sold to the local utility company to offset the electricity consumed at Cape Cod AFS. We are estimating the turbines will produce about seven million kilowatt-hours per year. This will save more than $1 million annually in Cape Cod's electric bill and eliminate 4,790 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Peterson is also participating with Colorado Springs Utilities and other local stakeholders on a large scale community solar project. The intent of this is to leverage incentives that will allow us to offset energy produced from fossil fuel.

Other programs the 21st SW is pursuing include water conservation, recycling programs and many other green and other energy efficiency initiatives.

"Our Airmen have done amazing things in the past," Crawford said. "I look forward to working with all of you as we operate and sustain our global missile warning and space control capabilities and installations, and continue to dominate the high ground for America and our allies."

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui