COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Col. Samantha Weeks, 14th Flying Training Wing commander, held her first wing commander’s call in the Kaye Auditorium here Oct. 5.
During her four all-calls, Weeks wanted to take time for everyone in the wing to get to know her and Chief Master Sgt. Raul Villarreal Jr., 14th Flying Training Wing command chief, on a personal level – talking about their family -- as well as layout their goals and expectations for Columbus AFB.
“Be humble, credible and approachable,” Weeks said. “I think that’s (what) each and every one of us has to be in the Air Force. No matter if you’re an airman first class, chief master sergeant, first lieutenant, colonel or GS-5 to GS-15. ... Those three things together make us good mentors, leaders, peers, supervisors and subordinates.”
Weeks also expanded on her new wing mission statement of Cultivating Airmen, Creating Pilots and Connecting. She explained what those items mean to her.
To cultivate Airmen, she said we need to focus on helping Airmen develop. Weeks said in her eyes, the Air Force still has a lot of Airmen that aren’t actively giving honest and constructive feedback, which is critical to creating a successful environment.
“I believe it’s something we’re missing in the Air Force,” she said. “Nobody likes to sit down and say ‘Col. Weeks, this is where you need to improve.’ And to add to that, we also need to give that person the education and tools on how to get after it and improve.”
She said these conversations need to happen in order for our Airmen to continue improving.
“If you’re a front-line supervisor, flight commander, shop chief, director of operations, or commander and you’re not sitting down with your people and giving that honest, constructive feedback, then you’re doing a disservice to that individual, your unit and ultimately the Air Force,” she said.
She also said the term Airmen is the big umbrella over every single person on Columbus AFB, and every Airmen is needed to help create pilots. Through those Airmen, the base can take somebody who may have never sat at the controls of an aircraft before and create lethal and ready military aviators.
Lastly, Weeks said the Team BLAZE needs to connect with each other to better understand what each squadron adds to the big picture.
“I need the Operations Group to understand what the Mission Support Group does, what the Medical Group does, and to understand what our contractors and our civilians bring to the fight, and vice versa” she said.
Villarreal discussed the expectations of the Air Force, emphasizing on the need to be prepared for deployment and executing the mission, even if that means dealing with the bad guys along the way.
“There’s no punch out because we wear (the uniform),” Villarreal said. “All of this stuff here that we do at Columbus Air Force Base or AETC, is practice for something that we’re going to be (accomplishing) somewhere else. At the end of the day you have to be ready to execute the mission.”
Villarreal described how Team BLAZE is going to accomplish the wing mission and “get after it.” He used an example of the band One Direction and how the members didn’t make it as solo artists, but when they came together, they went on to be a huge success. Bottom line, as Aristotle said, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” That is true of Team BLAZE as well! Afterward, Weeks gave her final thoughts to the audience, adding that she wants to hear from her Airmen and not only through the chain of command. She personally wants to connect and hear what Airmen need and what ideas they have.
“Flexibility is the key to air power and we need to adapt in how we communicate and how get stuff done so that the chain of command facilitates, not detracts, from your efforts,” she said.
Weeks promised to aid in the efficiency and improvement in how Columbus AFB gets the mission completed.
“My promise to you is that I’m going to tell you what we need to do and, very often, I’ll give you the why we need to do it,” she said. “It’s your job to tell us how we’re going to do it. You’re going to find the ideas to make things newer, faster, more efficient and more innovative.”
Weeks said she will aim to inspire Airmen so they feel proud and encouraged to be a part of the Team BLAZE legacy.
“Chief and I are going to get after this,” she said. “If it doesn’t mean much to you now, hopefully by the end of your tenure here and by the end of ours, it does mean something.”
After Weeks’ final thoughts, she and Villarreal opened the floor to questions from the audience as well as taking questions from a survey they sent out to Columbus AFB days before the all call.