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Change is nothing new

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Lew Harper
  • 320th Missile Squadron director of operations
As I finish my time here as the 320th Missile Squadron Director of Operations, I've been able to reflect on the last two years. It has certainly been an interesting two years. A great deal has happened and has driven historic changes. Change is never easy, but it is nothing new for this base.

From the first time I was assigned to F.E. Warren AFB in December 2002, I have been fascinated by its history. We see the history here every day as we live or work in buildings that, in some cases, are more than 100 years old.

Behind the buildings are 147 years of leadership stories. While some of the leaders became well known in history like Capt. Billy Mitchell or Col. Walter Short, many more have done their duty here and moved on.

These leaders dealt with many different kinds of changes through the years. Cavalry units were a mainstay of the fort for 30 years. Technology advanced and the cavalry changed. The Frontier Army discouraged enlisted troops from marrying. As social norms change, the base leadership had housing built to support increasing numbers of married troops. The invention of the airplane eventually led to the formation of the Air Force and new missions on the base.

The advent of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles brought the Atlas, Minuteman, and, eventually, Peacekeeper missiles to Warren. Strategic Air Command had control of the base from 1958 until SAC's deactivation in 1992. The SAC way of performing the ICBM mission was so deeply ingrained, that it is only now being seriously challenged.

As we deal with the changes to the way we do this business, it is important as leaders to try and understand where our Airmen are coming from. As I struggled to understand the underlying issues driving the dissatisfaction with a job I loved, I realized the Cold War world I grew up in was vastly different from the world in which our Airmen grew up. Most of our Airmen were born as or after the Cold War ended.

This insight has been useful in understanding some of the Force Improvement Program findings and recommendations. The recommendations come from the Airmen in the field who do our mission every day. Adapting to the changes will be most difficult on those of us who have been in this business the longest. It's important to remember that the changes will affect the way we do our mission, but our mission will not change.

As those who came before us did, we will adapt to these changes. Based on what I've seen, the Mighty Ninety will face change head on and will set the standard. I look forward to watching how you perform.

It has been an honor to serve in the 90th Missile Wing. I'm eager for the new challenges that await me, but I will miss working with the professionals here. So it is time to say good-bye (for now) and good luck.