Commander’s Corner: Get out, experience Team Kirtland

  • Published
  • By Col. Kevin McLaughlin
  • Space Development and Test Wing Commander
One of the most repeated comments heard after Air Force members attend in-residence Professional Military Education is that the best thing about the course was the chance to interact and learn from their Air Force teammates. Our new Airman's Creed reminds us of all that binds us together as Airmen. However, our culture is a mosaic rich in different backgrounds, experiences and missions. The more we take time to learn from one another, the stronger the fabric of the entire service.

But you don't have to wait until you have the opportunity to attend PME. All you have to do is get your head out of your cockpit and realize that Team Kirtland is one of the best places in the world for Airmen to learn from one another.

For example, the Nuclear Weapons Center is the center of excellence for nuclear weapon acquisition, modernization and sustainment. It has the world's experts in the nuclear community. Now contrast the NWC's mission with that of the 58th Special Operations Wing. The 58th SOW's warriors train our elite special operations and combat search and rescue personnel. The Airmen in the 58th have "been there and done that" and keep Air Force special operations forces at the tip of the spear.

Team Kirtland's expertise doesn't end with nukes and special ops. The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center ensures new Air Force weapons systems are fully checked out in wartime environments to ensure our warfighters have the right tools. Our weapon systems don't go into combat without AFOTEC's stamp of approval.

Contrast AFOTEC's mission with that of the Space Development and Test Wing. SDTW's varied missions include space developmental test and evaluation, advanced space development, and the launch and operation of Air Force and DOD space test and experimental systems.

The other premier space organization on base is Air Force Research Laboratory's Space Vehicles Directorate. AFRL/VS develops and transitions the highest pay-off space technologies into advanced space experiments focused on supporting U.S. warfighters' space needs.

SDTW and AFRL/VS form the core of the DOD's new Operationally Responsive Space program which will be opened later this month here.

The other mind-bending AFRL directorate is Directed Energy. AFRL/DE is the Air Force science and technology leader for such complex technologies as high-powered microwaves, lasers, adaptive optics, imaging and effects.

The list goes on and on. Do you like F-16s? Then check out the New Mexico Air National Guard's 150th Fighter Wing. Or look into the Air Force Safety Center, the Air Force Inspection Agency, Sandia National Laboratories, the Missile Defense Agency, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency or the Pararescue and Combat Rescue Officer Training School.

These are just some of the diverse units on the base. The challenge is yours. Get your head out of your cockpit and begin to engage your Team Kirtland teammates. Your Air Force experience will be much richer and your effectiveness as an Airman will go up. See you out there!