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New AFSPC Vice Commander: Focus is on greater capabilities, family, health

(R to L) Lt. Gen. Allen B. Peck, commander, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., Maj. Gen. Michael J. Basla, vice commander, Air Force Space Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Col. James P. Galloway III, commander, Ira C. Eaker Center for Professional Development, Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala. and Col. Robert D. Gibson, commandant, National Security Space Institute, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., talk following the reassignment ceremony at the NSSI. Oct. 1, 2009.  (U.S. Air Force Photo By Duncan Wood)

(R to L) Lt. Gen. Allen B. Peck, commander, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., Maj. Gen. Michael J. Basla, vice commander, Air Force Space Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Col. James P. Galloway III, commander, Ira C. Eaker Center for Professional Development, Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala. and Col. Robert D. Gibson, commandant, National Security Space Institute, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., talk following the reassignment ceremony at the NSSI. Oct. 1, 2009. (U.S. Air Force Photo By Duncan Wood)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Humbled and honored by his new assignment, Air Force Space Command Vice Commander Maj. Gen. Michael J. Basla recognizes the importance of the command and has been actively learning the ropes.

"AFSPC is going to be the lead major command for two of the Air Force warfighting domains," said General Basla. "There is recognition at the senior leadership level of the direct correlation and opportunities between space and cyberspace."

General Basla has never been assigned to a space or missile unit, but he is working hard to get up to speed. In addition to learning from the professional men and women around the command, he is also intent on accomplishing initial operation training and qualifications.

"Thirty years of joint and Air Force assignments have made me feel like I can contribute," said General Basla. "I'll bring what I have to the fight and I'll ask you to bring what you have to the fight. Together, we'll deliver greater capabilities to the warfighter and the Nation."

General Basla has earned the go-by name of 'Coach'. Before joining the Air Force, he worked as a math teacher and track and football coach. He applies the same leadership lessons he used on the field to his current position.

"People want leaders to set the example, to give clear direction, and people want to be challenged. I've always challenged folks to reach for a bar that was a little bit above their finger tips," he said. "What happens as a result of that is people deliver to levels they don't really realize they were capable of doing and that's the success of any great organization."

With multiple assignments in the joint warfighting world, General Basla has seen the effect that AFSPC has on troops on the ground.

"The benefits to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines on the ground are absolutely critical. Space provides situational awareness on enemy locations, blue and red force tracking, intelligence feeds and communication links; this is absolutely critical in the valleys of Afghanistan," he said.

Joint assignments are a big part of the new vice commander's background and something more Airmen are experiencing. He finds being an Airman in a joint environment is exciting because of the opportunity to share our culture and what we as Airmen bring to the joint fight. At the same time, being exposed to what other services bring to the fight.

"In 1986, the Goldwater-Nichols Act forced us to become more joint. The services, I think, went into that kicking and screaming," said General Basla. "Today there is recognition that it was the best thing to have happened to us, and we are much more capable now.

"Find out what your Sailors are doing on board the ship, and what your Soldier friends are doing in the field and at the same time how can you best help do their job and how can they best help you do your job."

Work isn't the only thing on his mind. He recognizes the need to balance fitness, family and one's professional career as essential to being a total Airman. He knows we are more productive and better at taking care of our families when we're healthier.

"I give my secretary and executive assistant gold stars when they make time on my schedule for the gym. It's a part of a whole well-life program," said General Basla. "You do fitness with the family too. Every night, my wife and I took a 3.5-mile walk at my last assignment. We were able to spend quality time and do physical training together."

The importance and support that families give to Airmen serving in remote duty stations or at a home station are something the general is cognizant of. Being deployed to remote stations, he remembers hearing his wife talk about taking care of the car or putting up the Christmas tree. The burden that Air Force families face hasn't gotten easier, but he strives to keep a healthy balance.

"When you get home at night, your family wants to see you. You need to talk to them, you need to love them, take a walk, go to the kids' plays, sit down and help with homework," said General Basla. "Balance is the key."