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Impact of great leadership

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – The 60th Comptroller Squadron holds its change of command June 28, where Lt. Col. Jared Mitchell relinquishes command to Maj. Andrew Wilkins. This time-honored military tradition brings reflection and optimism about where we’ve come from and what our future holds. 

As I look back on our time with Mitchell, I see an enormous transformation within our squadron.  This change stems directly from Mitchell’s leadership. The key areas impacted by his command are readiness, mindset and morale. 

Our squadron faced many challenges over Mitchell’s tenure, as have many units. Our most pressing challenge was a lack of manning or skill sets in key areas. This didn’t prevent us from executing our mission; instead, we adopted a creative mindset to address every-day problems.  Airmen were assigned to positions and duties, usually reserved for a more “seasoned” non-commissioned officer, requiring them to operate at a higher level play an integral role in training their peers.

Mitchell went after every training opportunity we could find to help facilitate the development of our Airmen – as Airmen, technicians and trainers. Our unit benefited from corporate training seminars, unique conferences, and, most importantly, the help from peers across the financial management community. Under his leadership, we solved many training dilemmas, most in ways that seem elementary. We are more ready today to deploy and execute our mission due to his focus on readiness in our core job responsibilities.

Once Mitchell took command, we almost immediately shifted our way of thinking as comptrollers and Airmen. Our Airmen have a better mindset with regard to their role in providing decision support; the ability to help commanders better understand money and how to execute their missions in the current fiscal environment.

I’ve also witnessed a transformation in our attitude towards tackling complex pay matters as a whole for Team Travis. This transformation in mindset stems from mentorship, communication and most of all, attitude. Mitchell is relentless in his work ethic. As a commander, it set the tone for our team to follow. We found ourselves operating at a higher standard; and while doing so, learning much about ourselves and our potential.

The easiest area to identify the impact felt by Mitchell’s two years as our comptroller is in our morale. He instilled a family atmosphere, always insisting our families took part in unit functions. We introduced regular “5 Minutes of Fame” presentations where Airmen addressed the squadron about themselves, allowing each of us to learn about our teammates in ways we may not have known otherwise. Activities such as birthday celebrations, promotions and commander’s calls were scheduled often. Our Airmen look forward to these events with enthusiasm. 

While these changes are important, one major change Mitchell made in our unit was the transformation of our squadron’s facilities. He revamped our use of space to better serve customers and increase pride in the squadron. Over the last two years, we created a training center with more than 25 work stations often used by various other organizations. Furthermore, he drove a self-help project to create a breakroom, centered on our financial management heritage, which became the focal point for gathering as a unit, and is probably the best I’ve seen anywhere. It immediately lifted the morale of our unit more than I thought possible. It may not sound like much to an outside observer, but those who are part of our squadron cannot deny the transformation our team experienced because of his leadership.

Great leaders positively impact others. Great commanders impact those they command for years to come. I’ve been an Airman for over 22 years. I cannot think of a commander that has fundamentally changed an organization for the better, as Mitchell did. Perhaps it wasn’t his intent to make drastic changes, but the changes are real. We wish him the best as he heads to his next assignment at with Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.