The mission of communication

  • Published
  • By Maj. Randy Wardak
  • Commander, 97th Communications Squadron
During the last 97th Communications Squadron commander's call, we covered the squadron's role within the 97th Air Mobility Wing. We shared some thoughts about what we do for our "home team."

I'll start with the Air Force and Wing missions, as shown on the Altus web page, The Air Force Mission said, "the mission of the United States Air Force is to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace."

This is an important statement for all of us. Although most of us will serve on the Air Force team in numerous locations in a variety of roles over the course of our careers, this statement is brilliant: it appears to guide us in all situations. Despite permanent change of station's to new locations, personal and professional growth, and a perpetual stream of new challenges that we face in our profession, we always need to focus on contributing our part for the team's success.

To me the words "fly, fight, win and cyberspace" are the key words and they are symbolic in nature. We can interpret and apply them to our jobs even if we don't regularly operate aircraft or directly engage in combat.

Here is my personal perspective:
The world is struggling to define "cyberspace." Regardless of the many schools of thought on that, I suggest that the core elements are (1) information, (2) how we all relate with each other, and (3) in our military role we want to ensure our information resources are effective, reliable and secure. I personally do not limit "cyberspace" to mean only computer networks - think symbolically here - I believe the term applies to all of our information resources.
The word "fly" for information professionals may mean that we are expected to expertly and professionally apply our cyberspace-operations expertise to support our teammates. We do our jobs in order to enable everyone else to do their jobs. At Altus AFB, we claim 72 "Comm Cougars" as assigned to the 97th Communications Squadron. There are many more, very important folks that I consider to be Cougar teammates who are not assigned to the Squadron. More broadly, we all use information, so there are more than 3,600 Mighty 97th teammates operating or "flying" in cyberspace.

Note - the word "fly" conjures for me a vision of disciplined competence. This requires constant training and learning in order to ensure we have the high level of skill to provide the support that our team needs. It's very important for our "Comm Cougars" to always be qualified and ready to rock!

"Fight and win". These words in the mission statement define our mindset and approach. The airman's creed states, "I am an American Airman. I am a warrior. I have answered my nation's call. I am an American Airman. My mission is to fly, fight, and win. I am faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor and a legacy of valor. I am an American Airman, guardian of freedom and justice, my nation's sword and shield, its sentry and avenger. I defend my country with my life. I am an American Airman: wingman, leader, warrior. I will never leave an Airman behind, I will never falter and I will not fail.

"...and I will NOT fail!" It's about full commitment to success, overcoming challenges and protecting our resources. It's often about being flexible - making it happen despite fog, friction and unanticipated circumstances. It can sometimes mean starting with a seemingly impossible task and then finding a way to succeed.

A U.S. Marine Corps infantry Colonel shared his perspective with me during a deployment. He called it the "will to communicate". If you have enough willpower, you will find a way to communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime. His advice was to "never run out of willpower."

When we put all that together, I believe we are ready to perform our mission within the 97th Air Mobility Wing: "Forging Combat Mobility Forces and Deploying Airman Warriors." We are fortunate that our Communication Cougar's (and extended Cougar team's) efforts to organize, train and equip in-garrison serve several purposes: we support the Mighty 97th in "Forging Combat Mobility Forces," we prepare ourselves for our nation's expeditionary needs abroad and when we do "Deploy Airman Warriors," our folks are ready, they do well and they return proud of jobs well done!

I recently completed my first year on the Mighty 97th team and I must say that this has to be the most team-oriented and success-focused team that I have been part of in my more than 21 years of Air Force experience. I have a theory that our Wing culture comes from a combination of our unique circumstances, including: the Mobility Air Force mission itself (successful cargo deliveries and refueling, world-wide, 365 days a year), crew mentality (we succeed together as a team), Strategic Mobility Schoolhouse (we have the best of the best at Altus - our primary objective is to help other people succeed) and last, but not least, a great local community.

It's a privilege to be here, this past year has been fantastic and hardly seems like a whole year, and I look forward to continuing to serve here with you in this great mission. Thank you for what you do and for being great partners in the effort!