The Readiness Imperative

Lt.Col. Mark Bigley

Lt.Col. Mark Bigley


One of the most significant responsibilities a squadron commander holds is providing ready forces to meet assigned military objectives. I can attest readiness drives many of my decisions for how we organize, train and equip personnel and weapon systems in the 1st Space Operations Squadron. This singular focus is not without reason; warfighting readiness is central to our ability to gain and maintain space superiority across the spectrum of conflict. However, long gone are the days of waiting for a future conflict. We are now in a constant state of multi-domain, near real-time engagement, requiring a readiness posture unheard of in years past.

Space Mission Force and the Space Warfighting Construct helped drive this shift, but the biggest change to how we maintain readiness actually came in the form of the Ready Space-crew Program. The concept behind RSP closely resembles programs in other AF mission sets that aligns training to the performance of mission essential tasks; those things a unit must be able to do in order to achieve assigned military objectives. In 1st SOPS our RSP framework prioritizes resources, personnel and schedules to ensure our 130-strong unit can meet mission essential tasks across all phases of military conflict, however readiness for the missions in 1st SOPS is not achieved in a vacuum.

Across Schriever AFB, there is an incredible array of warfighting functions that operate like a single weapon system. Our mission in 1st SOPS relies on capabilities from the network operations group, mission support group and even some of our base mission partners. We rely on the readiness of our defenders to secure people and resources, our engineers to provide agile infrastructure, our cyber wingmen to assure freedom of movement in the vast cyber domain and our personnelists to manage the force. Taken together, the combat capability of each unit allows 1st SOPS to fight from “home” - executing wartime functions from within our garrison, akin to RPA operations. This is a forward-leaning readiness posture which requires a steady, deliberate program (like RSP) to manage all of the moving parts. No matter your rank, experience level, or duty description, it is imperative every member strives to increase our collective readiness at every opportunity.

 This imperative should sound familiar; the number one priority for our higher headquarters is to “improve readiness and lethality across all levels.” It’s important to reflect on how far we have come in meeting that goal over a relatively short period of time. I’ve seen the benefits within 1st SOPS and watched how the 50th Space Wing sets the benchmark in exercises and large force employment events like Space Flag. We are on a great path!

In 2019 the pace will only increase. Our space and cyber domains are contested. Operating conditions are likely to be degraded. In this environment our best chance for success is to be disciplined in our pursuit of readiness. As noted in a recent memo from former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, “We have no God-given right to victory … discipline is a competitive edge we must seek and maintain each day.” Maintaining readiness across a wide range of threats and operating environments gives us the ability to enter into conflict better and more prepared than our adversary. Disciplined execution, honed through rigorous preparation, ensures we will never lose domain superiority. Whether air, land, maritime, space or cyber … in a multi-domain environment no single domain can fail.

These goals may sound lofty, but it’s what our nation expects. Each of us have the capacity to accomplish even the most demanding mission objectives in the face of great adversity. Adhering to a formal readiness program, like RSP, is an essential duty. When we find gaps in our warfighting readiness or challenges to training, there are mechanisms to ensure we redirect resources quickly and accurately.  We are similarly charged with “whole person” readiness; this includes our Comprehensive Airman Fitness, our medical readiness, financial and personal accountability and the mental preparedness to deliver on the oath we all take upon entry into service. Taken together, every member of the “Schriever weapon system” is integral and essential to victory.  I am incredibly proud to be standing with each of you, the most capable and effective space force our nation has ever seen.