AFSPC Vice Commander: Stay focused on your critical mission

  • Published
  • By Katherine Kebisek
  • Air Force Network Integration Center
Lt. Gen. John Hyten, vice commander of Air Force Space Command, visited the Air Force Network Integration Center Oct. 10 to meet with the center's personnel and see its mission firsthand.

As part of the visit, the general held an all call with AFNIC and other local AFSPC units, during which he discussed several topics including communicating the cyber story, Air Force challenges, and the importance of the Wingman culture.

While it was the general's first visit to AFNIC, it wasn't his first time in the organization. General Hyten began his Air Force career in 1981 as a lieutenant assigned to a Headquarters Air Force Communications Command unit, a predecessor to AFNIC. He began the all call by noting how amazing it was to see how the organization has evolved.

"It's pretty neat to come back and see an organization that is heavily involved in the cyber mission and doing such tremendous things," he said. "[You are] jumping in, making a difference and moving things forward in a domain that's going to be critical to everything that we do in the future of the military."

He cautioned, however, about the "trap of having a cool job."

"The trap is getting caught up in the cool things you do every day and forgetting about why you do them; and why we do what we do is to impact war on the battlefield around the world every day," he said. "In space and cyber, everything we do in those domains is fundamental to executing war."

He stressed the importance of always remembering the bigger picture of why the cyber mission is essential to warfighting, and challenged the AFSPC team to help tell that story better so senior leaders have the best possible information on cyber capabilities when making decisions.

"What you do is essential to everything we do in the Air Force," General Hyten said. "We have to tell that story better."

He went on to discuss some of challenges the Air Force is facing, specifically with respect to budget and force structure.

"The biggest threat to our nation right now is our own financial crisis and deficit. We cannot continue to spend the way we have been spending," General Hyten said. He added that with reduction in budget, it is not feasible to operate with the same force structure. However, even with the constant change, space and cyber will continue to be critical to all military operations and everyone must stay focused.

"The key is to separate yourself from the noise that's going on and focus on the critical mission you have here at AFNIC," he said. "That's our job; it's an amazing calling."
One of the final topics the general discussed was suicide, an unfortunate reality plaguing the Air Force and Department of Defense.

"If you've ever been to a funeral of somebody who's committed suicide, and you look at what happened to the family, the unit, the friends of all those people, the damage that single act created will last a lifetime," he said. "[Suicide] didn't make things better, it always makes things worse."

He described the importance of the Wingman Culture and urged Airmen to watch out for each other and act if they see something wrong.

"Something magnificent always happens once you've been through that tough time ... it always happens but we forget that," he said. "Look at your friends and remind them of that. Get them help if they need help. There's always a better end."

During the question and answer portion, the general addressed questions on several topics, including challenges facing cyber professionals and Joint cyber efforts. He repeatedly stressed the importance of developing and growing the right cyber capabilities within the force, as well as the synergy between space and cyber.

"Everything we do in space is delivering information, providing information or an information pathway. Cyber is the same thing," he said. "On the battlefield, that's the synergy between space and cyber; and we've only scratched the surface. As we jump into that, we can do some amazing things."

Despite how force structure or resources evolve, the expertise and work of AFNIC personnel supporting the cyber mission will continue to play a critical role in today's Air Force mission.

"You guys have cool jobs and are doing amazing things," he said. "Thank you for what you're doing."