86th AW commander talks priorities, goals for wing

by Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Editor’s note: After a few short weeks of being the commander of the 86th Airlift Wing, Brig. Gen. C. K. Hyde sat down to talk about the things most important to him: the mission of our wing and the people that make it phenomenal.

TE: Welcome to the 86th sir, how do you like Ramstein so far?
BG Hyde: Jodie, my wife, George, our son, and I are glad to be here at Ramstein. We look forward to the privilege of commanding and leading the men and women of the 86th Airlift Wing and working with all of our partners at Ramstein and in the Kaiserslautern Military Community (and) to continue the mission of providing air, space and cyberspace power for the United States Air Force.

TE: When I read your biography I learned that you have been a squadron commander or above now for more than 10 years. What have you learned over those years and what are you the most proud of?
BG Hyde: My appreciation and love of our Airmen has grown over time. Our Airmen are phenomenal; they are great warriors, they are great leaders, they are creative, they are adaptive and they have risen to every challenge. My time in command started just after Sept. 11, and since that time we have been in continuous combat operations around the world. We’ve done things we didn’t expect we’d be doing, and Airmen have executed missions they had not expected to do, but in every case they have risen to the challenge with pride, professionalism and commitment to our core values, demonstrating the excellence for which we are known throughout the world.

Our Airmen are valued by the joint force and are respected wherever they’re engaged around the globe defending our freedom. One of the most impressive things I’ve seen is the performance of our Airmen over the years in constantly changing levels of warfare and evolving domains. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with many foreign leaders and the one thing they universally praise and desire to emulate is our professional enlisted corps — our Airmen and NCOs. They clearly see their dedication and professionalism; and that’s what I am most proud of.

TE: As far as our airlift mission goes, what are your priorities for the 86th?
BG Hyde: Well, first it’s our mission of flying, fighting and winning in EUCOM and in the current conflicts around the world. We have to keep focused on winning today’s fight and making sure our Airmen are focused on the mission, well trained for the mission, that our readiness is high, at the individual and team levels. We can’t let the operations tempo that we’ve been under for the last 10 years undermine our ability to win today and be prepared for future challenges. The second priority will be strengthening the teams that operate and fight from Europe’s premiere airlift and expeditionary hub — Ramstein Air Base.

We will remain focused on our mission and our people to make sure we produce the combat delivery, mobility, contingency response and cyber capabilities, upon which our nation, our Air Force, and our allies depend upon.

TE: If you could summarize that into just a few single words, what would it be?
BG Hyde: Mission and people.

TE: Is there a reason for that order?
BG Hyde: Yes. It’s what we are all about as an Air Force and joint force. The military exists for one simple reason: the defense of our great republic. Our mission is to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace. That is what we do.
If we are not successful at our mission, our whole reason for existence is negated. Our mission is first, but people are always the focus. If you take care of Airmen and their families, they will execute the mission successfully. It’s really two sides of the same coin. A lot of things contribute to our Air Force completing the mission. Weapon systems, technology and processes all are important, but the most important element of being able to execute the mission is the world’s best, professional Airmen.  

TE: So, how do your priorities align with big Air Force’s?
BG Hyde: Gen. (Norton) Schwartz put “fly, fight and win” back in our Air Force mission statement, because the end-state is not just flying or fighting, it’s winning. Our AF accomplishes its mission by defending our great republic and the values of freedom, democracy and equality for which we stand. Everything we do in the 86th AW supports the AF mission and priorities.

TE: Do you have any personal accomplishment to achieve during your time here?
BG Hyde: I want the 86th AW and Team Ramstein to achieve new levels of excellence as the flagship wing in USAFE. I want to develop professional Airmen and leaders who eventually leave this wing and spread what they have learned to the rest of the Air Force. I want us to be known as a wing that develops professional Airmen and leaders who are motivated, well trained and have been challenged to grow. I want people to look at our organization and say, ‘I want what they have.’ I want us to be known as the developers of the best Airmen in the Air Force. If we challenge our Airmen with high standards, they can and will deliver. In turn, wing, NAF, MAJCOM and AF will be successful.

TE: You spoke about being resilient in your initial briefings. How do you stay resilient?
BG Hyde: In order to stay resilient we must have balance — spiritual, physical, personal and professional health. If we put 100 percent into work and ignore our spiritual, physical or personal health — like family — we will not be effective over the long term.

The ops tempo is high. Our Airmen are incredibly busy. We have a force that is half the size than when I came into the Air Force. We’ve become better, more efficient and more effective with our weapon systems, technology and our processes, but the key factor remains — our people. In order to keep our Airmen productive, not just in the short term, but throughout their career and life after military service, we must ensure they do not burn out, or eventually, it will hurt the performance of their unit.

TE: What then are your expectations of the Airmen in the 86th?
BG Hyde: I expect them to live by the core values. I expect them to develop professional Airmen and leaders. I expect them to take care of our Air Force and joint family in the Kaiserslautern Military Community. If we live by our core values, develop professional Airmen and leaders, take care of our Air Force family, then my Airmen will be doing exactly what I need them to do.

TE: Who will you lean on to ensure all your Airmen are taken care of?
BG Hyde: We depend upon every Airman in this wing. Each Airman is important to the success of our mission and taking care of our people. From our newest Airmen who are watching out for each other as wingmen to our most senior commanders, we depend on every Airman. From the backbone of the Air Force, our NCO corps who are leading our Airmen, to the frontline supervisors, this message goes out to all of them. We depend upon you for mission success. Our Air Force only has about 332,000 people. We need every Airman to do their part.

TE: What do you believe keeps our joint partners and the local community united?
BG Hyde: One thing that undergirds us with our host nation and NATO partners is our shared values and principles — freedom, democracy, equality — the shared respect for human value and dignity. We have far more in common than we have differences, and our common values bind us together. While our values bind us together, our differences bring unique perspectives, capabilities and contributions.  We are stronger together than we would be separately.