TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – The Air Mobility Command commander and command chief visited Travis Air Force Base, California, Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.
This was the first stop for Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, AMC commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Brian Kruzelnick, AMC command chief, in a series of base visits to learn from mobility Airmen about successes and challenges across the command.
Van Ovost, formerly the vice commander of Travis AFB’s U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center, knows how valuable Travis and its Airmen are to the Air Force.
“We’ve come so far in allowing Airmen to innovate and think about the future,” Van Ovost said. “That’s evident in Travis’ Phoenix Spark cell. What Travis has there is amazing, and it’s not only four or five Airmen there—it’s a total force team helping each other achieve great things. Travis proves that if you empower your Airmen, and give them the time to think about how to better accomplish the mission, they want to do that; they want to use their unique talents to make things better.”
During the visit, Van Ovost and Kruzelnick spent time with various agencies across all three wings assigned to Travis AFB. One idea that each agency tour was steeped in, though, is a Travis hallmark: innovation.
For Van Ovost, successful innovation is less a measure of how many ideas can be brought to the table and more about nurturing an environment in which Airmen’s talents and ingenuity have the room and support to flourish.
“Our ability to effectively do our work and feel empowered by our superiors all comes from the culture,” Van Ovost said. “The culture where everyone comes to the table, their voice can be heard and people are understanding and empathetic. It’s a culture that feeds upon itself.”
Van Ovost cited Travis AFB’s recent response to the LNU Lightning Complex Fire as an example of the base’s culture and the resiliency of its Airmen.
“This whole base bugged out over a fire about ten days ago,” she said. “You all had to get after it immediately, and not everyone was here. From the gas on the flight line to the assets to the mission to families, everyone here had to go through the thought process of knowing what the risks were and in what ways they would best be able to help. This base came up with some great ideas to accomplish the mission that was essentially, ‘bug out, and get your family safe,’ and accomplished it perfectly.”
Although only being in their positions a short while, Van Ovost and Kruzelnick left no ambiguity as to what sort of culture they want to cultivate among AMC Airmen.
“From the flight line to the front line, from the cockpit to the clinic, we will develop leaders of character with a natural bias for action and a competitive, curious and innovative mindset,” Van Ovost said upon assuming AMC command, Aug. 20, in a ceremony at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. “We will grow Airmen who are resilient, multi-capable and digitally adept—instinctively exploiting advances in data, computing and information technologies—and armed with the specific skills to deliver into the future.”
Kruzelnick, likewise, elaborated on the pair’s vision for AMC moving forward.
“The circle that holds together our priorities of developing our force and enhancing our warfighting capabilities is innovation,” Kruzelnick said. “Innovation stems from intellectual curiosity—zeal to know how things work, but having a bias toward action. It means having the support to make something better, more effective and more efficient. That starts in our units, squadrons, groups and wings.”
“This isn’t a time to wait, it’s a time to accelerate,” he added.
For Van Ovost and Kruzelnick, the Air Force of the future is one that invests not only in the latest and greatest technologies, but in Airmen as well.
“If a squadron is open with transparent leadership that’s inclusive and trusting, then our Airmen won’t feel so vulnerable and will do the experimentation needed to keep our Air Force the world’s finest,” Van Ovost said. “Force development occurs when a squadron works together and leverages their diversity into something greater than the sum of its parts.”