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New 50 SW CC holds first all-call

Col. Jennifer Grant, 50th Space Wing commander, introduces herself to Airmen at her first all-call as commander at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Friday, July 7, 2017. Grant took the opportunity to explain who she is and laid the groundwork for her next couple of months as commander. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

Col. Jennifer Grant, 50th Space Wing commander, introduces herself to Airmen at her first all-call as commander at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Friday, July 7, 2017. Grant took the opportunity to explain who she is and laid the groundwork for her next couple of months as commander. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 50th Space Wing’s new commander held her first all call at the fitness center July 7.

During the event, Col. Jennifer Grant took time to introduce herself, her family and lay out her expectations and standards for her next couple of months as commander.

“You’re probably wondering what’s going on and are things going to change,” Grant said to a packed house. “Who is this Colonel Grant anyway?”

As a wife, mother and commander, Grant has experience in virtually every aspect of the challenges associated with military life; and was empathetic to her Airmen’s daily hurdles.

“I’ve been a dual military spouse. I had a four month old when I took command of the 2nd Space Operations Squadron (in 2010). I don’t recommend having a four month old and taking command at the same time,” she said with a chuckle. “I’m not unfamiliar with the challenges of balancing work, family and dual military issues.”

Grant, a New Hampshire native, related the challenges of military families transitioning to a new base, to the wing transitioning to new leadership.

“Transition is not unfamiliar,” Grant said. “Plans not going exactly according to plan is not an unfamiliar issue. What does this have to do with the wing here and offering an intro? There are some corollaries to what we are doing here at the wing.

“So, I did a little bit of homework,” Grant continued. “I’ve been in the seat for barely four days. In that time, I’ve been able to have some man and woman on the street conversations. I’ve had an opportunity to sit down with your commanders. I know this wing has just finished running a wind sprint series.”

Grant said her initial observations are Schriever’s Airmen are incredible in terms of motivation, and always find a way to say yes and get the mission done.

“All of that is fantastic,” Grant said. “Although that is the case, I think we are running out of steam in some respects and need an opportunity to catch our breath corporately across the wing. We’ve been running fast and hard. We can do that for so long but we need to be able to take a step back and ask ‘are we where we thought we were going to be in a way that we’ll be able to make some permanent changes that reflect all the progress we’ve made up to this point and time?’”

To better answer those questions, Grant and her leadership team will spend the next two months in “learning mode.”

“In the next six to eight weeks, I’ll be asking those questions with my [leadership team] to ensure we’re ready to let the concrete cure,” Grant said. “There’s a lot of listening and question asking. My commitment to you is once we exit what I consider to be our leadership team’s immersion, I will come back and we’ll have another conversation. At that juncture we’ll have a question and answer session.”

While the 50 SW’s commander is taking time to fine tune her vision and priorities, she did have two key leadership philosophy principles to guide the base moving forward.

First: do not make any assumptions incoming leadership is automatically going to do things the same way their predecessors did.

“I would ask you to please be flexible but don’t make assumptions,” Grant said. “If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Silence is tacit approval to press forward.”

Second: you cannot over-communicate.

“The biggest issue when there is a misunderstanding, is typically because we have not clearly communicated in a way that is specific enough to avoid there being a misunderstanding,” Grant said.

Grant said one thing that will not change is Schriever’s warfighter ethos.

“We, collectively at this wing, have revolutionized how we approach space operations and warfighter operations,” Grant said. “One of the things that was very apparent to me when I came back here was, I don’t think I heard one time, ‘ma’am’ we are space enablers. We support the operators.’ We are the operators. That warfighter ethos that has been instilled at this wing needs to stay that way because our adversaries are not going to let off the throttle.”

To keep Schriever and its events running smoothly and efficiently, Grant plans to emphasize the strategic calendar.

She also put emphasis on attendance to base-wide events.

“I need you to understand things like promotion and recognition ceremonies are important to me, this wing, and to our families,” Grant said. “We are all part of a family and it’s an opportunity to celebrate, be thankful and pay it forward.”

Grant closed her comments with a call for good communication and promising she would do the same.

“You’re my family now,” Grant said. “Our leadership team is here to lead you, serve with you, and work for and with you. We need to make sure lines of communication stay open because we can only help when we know there is opportunity to do that. I can only expect you to effectively embrace what we’d like to do if you understand why we’re doing it and where we’re going.”
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