TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Col. John Klein, 60th Air Mobility Wing commander, conducted his last rounds of commander’s calls May 7 and 8 in the Travis Air Force Base, California, theater.
Klein, whose two-year tenure as Travis AFB’s commander is scheduled to end July 10, has experienced much during his time in the position. Events such as wildfires, humanitarian support and security incidents have all tested the readiness of Travis Airmen.
Tests that Team Travis have risen to and overcome, said Klein.
“A lot has happened, and you have not faltered,” said Klein, addressing the Airmen in attendance. “Base leadership and I could not be more proud of the work, effort and focus you have brought to every challenge we’ve experienced.”
Among other topics, Klein chose to reiterate Team Travis’ need to renew their commitment to stay ready for when Travis is confronted with future challenges.
“It’s not enough to like winning or being victorious,” said Klein. “We need to ask ourselves if we’re prepared to do what it takes to win; if we’re prepared to commit ourselves to exercises designed to increase our lethality. We need to ask ourselves “Are We Ready?’”
Klein went on to speak of the ways resiliency can also affect readiness and of the importance of wingmanship inside of a contested environment.
“None of us are exempt from experiencing personal adversity,” said Klein. “Sometimes that adversity hits us in the middle of heavy operations, and it’s up to us as Airmen to support the mechanisms that allow ourselves and each other to overcome those obstacles and get back in the fight.”
Chief Master Sgt. Steve Nichols, 60th Air Mobility Wing command chief, also spoke during the call, echoing Klein’s sentiments during the retelling of several members of Team Travis’ stories of personal adversity.
“Listen, we all will encounter times that life beats us up pretty bad,” said Nichols. “Every single one of us, but that fact alone makes those times easier to get through. The kind of solidarity we feel for one another as members of the U.S. Air Force is universal. Every Airman you encounter whether at this base or another, whether they work above or below you, will be fighting their own battles, and just like it’s our responsibility to work through those issues, it’s also our responsibility to help others work through theirs.”
While the methods we use to increase resiliency among Airmen are important to readiness, it’s also the realization of our problems existing beyond what those methods are capable of helping us with that is just as important, said Nichols.
“Being in a deployed environment, there’s no shame in saying, ‘this is too much,’” said Nichols. “We would rather send you on some emergency leave so you can handle your affairs back home than see you trying to fight through your issues and end up degrading mission readiness.”
Nichols also announced that both he and his wife, Senior Master Sgt. Angell Nichols, 60th Operations Support Squadron superintendent, will retire later this year.
“It’s been a great ride here at Travis,” he said. “A great 25 years, too. I’m really proud to be ending my career at a high point with everyone here at the 60th AMW. I’m looking forward to working through September while we work on accelerating our readiness.”
“Accelerating readiness” was the theme prevalent during the event with Klein giving those in attendance a prelude into what they should expect in the coming months.
Readiness, as Klein explains, is an organic thing. It’s something that can atrophy if not practiced consistently, nor is it an American birthright.
“The idea of readiness is an institution; it’s something that needs to be sustained and fortified,” said Klein. “As technology grows, so do our methods, and so does our need to be ready. Even as ahead-of-the-curve we take pride in being, our near-peer adversaries aren’t far behind, and the time it takes us to be spun up and proficient in both our core competencies and new technology can very well make the difference in any conflict we might find ourselves in.”
In his closing remarks, Klein had a single sentiment to share with his Airmen.
“Thank you,” he said. “Having the opportunity to have served in this job is an honor and privilege, but to command Air Mobility Command’s crown jewel and get to work with the world’s finest mobility Airmen is a highlight of my professional life. It was more than an honor and privilege to have gotten to serve with all of you.”