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Working toward yes: Shifting our culture to think beyond today

Col. Jeff Nelson, 60th Air Mobility Wing commander

Col. Jeff Nelson, 60th Air Mobility Wing commander

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

During the recent all-calls Chief Crowder and I held, I emphasized that the 60th Air Mobility Wing mission, vision and priorities will remain unchanged. When we come to work each day, we aim to rapidly project American power anytime…anywhere. Each group, squadron and Airman has a role in the finest mobility force on the globe. You are first-class, working as a team with our families and community, multiplying our efforts to innovate and ensuring we are ready to meet our nation’s call at a moment’s notice.

Some units, even within Air Mobility Command, have the benefit of readying their force prior to executing a mission. Here, we must simultaneously train and execute to meet the highest levels of demand—whether this is delivering contingency supplies to Syria or ferrying a four-ship of F-15Es to Japan. In the last year alone, we have been called upon to rapidly stand up our base as a staging area for federal agencies responding to damaging wild fires while continuing to conduct large-scale exercises to prepare ourselves for future warfare. We are only capable of meeting these demands because of the caliber of our force—because of you.

You are a smart, strong, innovative and dedicated team of Airmen. I believe that we can remain the finest base in AMC as long as we adopt an attitude of “working toward yes.”

Creating a culture that operates with a working toward yes mindset will not occur overnight. Our Air Force and the Department of Defense as a whole has endured the last decade of sequestration and personnel cuts. However, what our country’s leaders deemed a necessity for our nation in turn created a culture of denial within our military. We were taught to trim the edges, cut back on cost, time, resources and people. Everywhere we looked, requests were often met with a resounding “no” or “not now.”

As we continue to emerge from sequestration into an era of fiscal stewardship, I urge every one of you to embrace a new attitude in your lives and work environment. This will demand teamwork, humility, problem solving, creativity and efficiency. We must continue to create a culture at Travis that is known for working towards yes—one that does not shoot down ideas or stifle innovation, but always attempts to find a solution or a way to get it done. We have made great progress through the Phoenix Spark program here at Travis. This process is not an overnight transition, and we may only see the fruits of our labor long after you and I have left this base. This is what makes a culture shift so critical to future success—it’s about sustained strength for our installation and our nation’s defense.

As you well know, 2018 was our base’s 75th anniversary. Beginning last month and continuing over the next few months, your leadership teams will be discussing “Travis 100”—that is, how do we want Travis to look when we celebrate our 100th anniversary in 25 years? The sky is the limit for our discussions! How can we plan for artificial intelligence and drone technology? How do we take into account the evolution of information dissemination? How will we be ready for what our country asks of us when 2018’s senior airmen are chiefs?

But it isn’t just the leadership who will determine the course of our wing’s future. You can assist by bringing your ideas to the table via our #NoBounds Innovation Campaign, located at https://usaf.ideascalegov.com. Do you have an idea on how to compound data to make you a better decision maker? Have you been eyeing a new type of technology that will allow you to fix a machine faster? How about a new tracking method to organize large-scale projects? What will it take to get to yes? You are empowered to do the work now to ensure not only your replacement’s success, but also their replacement and beyond. This empowerment leads to better team connectedness and success and can help our base reach its 100-year goals. Our Airmen are the power behind aircraft generation, information technology, medical research, cargo inspections and base defense. We are nothing without you.

I look forward to serving alongside you during my time here at Travis, and I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together. No Bounds!