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What makes Travis' success so special?

  • Published
  • By Maj. Ash Cannon
  • 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander
Last month, I had the opportunity to participate in the Commander-In-Chief's Installation Excellence Award visit as one of the aides for Col. Christopher Short, the 366th Fighter Wing, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, commander and Team 2 evaluator, and Col. David Mott, 60th Operations Group commander and Team 2 principal escort.

During the visit, we all had the privilege of observing countless joint and total force successes whether innovations or efficiencies across the aircraft maintenance, airfield and mission operations, command and control, safety and major installation tenant arenas on base.

Collectively, Team 2 participants in concert with teams 1, 3 and 4 showcased numerous functional areas and the remarkable talent, excellence and commitment of Travis' Golden Bears during the four-day visit which culminated as a benchmark success for the entire installation. Key factors driving team successes included, but were not exclusive to, superior talent, initiatives, planning, rehearsal and flawless execution by all.

Shortly after the installation mission brief at the beginning of the visit, the Team 2 evaluation commenced with a forum that championed the 60th and 349th Operations and Maintenance Group teams. During this stop on the itinerary, Short learned about the many synergies and synchronized efforts inherent to daily operations and maintenance interactions at Travis.

Col. Mark Weber, 60th Maintenance Group commander, and Mott along with representatives from their flying and maintenance units, including our essential Reserve partners, discussed a variety of initiatives ranging from the 9/11 Freedom Launch training event and exercise to operations and maintenance scheduling, flying-hour program savings, total force integration and a plethora of innovations and efficiencies such as the iG081 tablet initiative. This tablet is a worldwide accessible electronic medium application fusing a multitude of real-time data points to enhance aircraft maintenance, sustainment and production operations and decision-making.

Toward the end of this forum, Short began soliciting ideas as to what makes Travis' success so unique, specifically, any elements that may be exportable to enhance the success of other units around the Air Force. Group leaders, operators and maintainers, regardless of weapons system, began offering what seemed to be an endless stream of benchmark attributes easily replicated elsewhere.

These suggestions ranged from the 60th MXG's emphasis on key pillars of success training, safety, technical data and attitude to fostering seamless relationships and mission execution between operations, maintenance and total force partners, all personified daily at Travis. But, as the dialogue continued, it appeared to me there was one missing ingredient, the trite but vital element so inherent in daily activities that we sometimes take it for granted, leadership.

Eventually, the element of leadership entered the conversation so we took the opportunity to describe the climate our leadership establishes on Travis, from the wing commanders down to the youngest teammate, and how that climate is so unique by setting the conditions for each member of Travis to not only demonstrate leadership, but to lead courageously. This, in turn, drives a culture that embraces innovation and calculated risk taking which over time bears substantial results as noted throughout the many initiative successes showcased during the CINC IEA visit.

We also pointed out how the team concept within Air Mobility Command further instills a collaborative problem-solving approach to maximize each teammate's contributions and, together, courageous leadership and an innovative culture inspire more abstract or synthetic problem-solving solutions vice those that are traditionally more conservative and linear or serial-based. Ultimately, this approach fosters a high-performing team with hyper-performance outcomes and results, a key benchmark of Travis each and every day.

So, never underestimate the power of leadership, at all levels. It's assuredly a key impetus that makes unit, and certainly the Golden Bears, success at Travis so unique. Travis leaders not only set the conditions that enable and inspire Airmen to innovate and demonstrate leadership, but they also establish an environment conducive to both. This inspires a courageous but calculated culture embraced by all that leverages trust and confidence in superiors and subordinates alike to wield high performance outcomes.