Brig. Gen. Richard G. Moore, Jr., 86th Airlift Wing commander, participated in a Q&A to share his thoughts about the Air Force, the wing and his vision for the future of Ramstein.
Q: What are your expectations from the Airmen of the 86th Airlift Wing?
A: I will ask no less of the wing than what has been asked for by previous commanders. Our Air Force, and our nation, count on the capabilities this wing brings to support EUCOM and AFRICOM. Airmen must realize that we also have a global mission — parts of the wing are engaged in a lot of other theaters. I expect the Airmen within this wing to look for better, faster, safer and smarter ways to do their jobs and, ultimately, help our wing perform its mission.
Q: What will be your main focus while beginning this assignment?
A: My beginning focus is on the health and safety of the Airmen that are here and the health and safety of their families, so we can perform our mission. That is ultimately the number one thing on which we’re all graded: our mission readiness.
There are major changes occurring on and around the installation in the next ten years, and one of my focus areas is ensuring that we have an understanding of when the various parts of those major construction, rehabilitation and revitalization projects are going to occur so we don’t develop conflicts that we didn’t foresee.
Beyond that, we’ll continue to integrate diverse and adapting mission sets into our wing. That includes the tanker mission that will come here, the transition of the medical center from Landstuhl to Rhine Ordnance Barracks and a variety of other things that will happen both here at Ramstein and at the geographically separated units for which we’re responsible: Chiѐvres, Morόn and Lajes Field.
Q: How do you feel your assignment at Ramstein will be different from your last assignment?
A: Certainly the European theater has some unique opportunities, as well as some unique ways of doing business. Operating within Central Europe, we have a host nation we depend on for many services and permissions. That certainly is something that I personally am not accustomed to dealing with, but I will tell you that the team here at Ramstein is accustomed to that, as the German citizens and government are very hospitable and we value our partnership.
This wing, as the largest wing in Europe — the largest wing outside the Continental U.S. in fact — is different because of its scope; its geographic area of responsibility is quite large. The luxury I have in assuming command of a wing that is being well led by highly capable commanders is it gives me the opportunity to watch, listen and learn. There isn’t anything in this wing that requires immediate reengineering for the accomplishment of the mission. I think that’s a true luxury and I am thrilled and honored to be in command of a wing that is in as good a shape as this one is.
Q: What is it about the Air Force way of life that most strongly contributes to mission accomplishment?
A: We expect our Airmen to be mission ready and we expect their squadron and group commanders to forge them into a team that can go forward and perform a mission. The key enabler to that is our families. None of us do this by ourselves; we all have responsibilities that we leave behind when we go to perform our mission. Some portion of our family, our immediate family, our spouses and our children; our military family, the folks we live with in the dorms; or our parents back home, whatever it is, there’s somebody who is seeing to some facet of our life while we’re gone. To me, our families are the key enabler to allow us to go forward and know everything back home is taken care of.
Q: In your biography, it shows that you continue to further your education. Why do you think education and professional development are important in today’s Air Force?
A: I don’t think they’re merely important; I think they’re foundational and they’re key. Look at the changes that have occurred over my career — when I was a lieutenant, computers in squadrons were dedicated to a single specific task. There was a computer that kept track of flight records, there was a computer that kept track of student records, but nobody had a personal computer on their desk. If we look at the changes that have occurred in the world and in the Air Force since I was a lieutenant, quite obviously we live in a different world.
The only way to keep pace with the myriad of changes that occur over the span of one’s career is to continue professional development and education. I think anyone that wants to stay relevant and continue to be influential and support the Air Force mission absolutely must continue their professional development and education. Otherwise, the information we have becomes dated and stale, and I don’t think that’s the way to make the strongest contribution that each of us is capable of.
Q: What do you think is the most important aspect of a good leader?
A: I think that’s a challenging question. The ability to adapt one’s leadership style to different kinds of situations, personalities, mission sets and theaters of operation is key. I don’t think there’s any one thing you could say makes a good leader, but a foundation of every single leadership trait is honesty and trustworthiness. Anyone that isn’t honest and trustworthy, it doesn’t matter what other traits they possess, I’m not convinced they can be a good leader.
Ultimately, I think we all have to be able to adapt our leadership styles to the particular situation we’re in. The people who do it in the very best way, certainly the bedrock of their leadership style is the Air Force core values, integrity chief among them, but the ability to adapt when leading different groups of Airmen in different situations and different theaters of operation is an essential aspect of a good leader.
Q: What changes in today’s Air Force do you feel have provided a better work environment for Airmen?
A: I think we have a much stronger focus now than ever before on professionalism and on professional development, and that is in no small part thanks to a strong NCO corps. We now have the most professional, most highly educated, and I also think the most dedicated corps of NCOs we’ve ever had. I think it shows in what our people are able to do, having just come in 2015 from being the smallest our service has ever been. The fact we’re engaged around the world and we’re truly making a difference is because of the NCOs we have and because of their level of professionalism, education and dedication. All three of those are stronger than they’ve ever been.
Q: How do you maintain a balance in your personal and professional life?
A: The enabling tenant of our mission capability is our families. I know my wife, Kristin, understands in certain points of our careers there are times when a particular event or operation is prioritized, and she’s patient, she’ll wait. As soon as that’s done, Kristin will help remind me that a particular phase is finished and now it’s time to relook at that balance. Then, as another event comes up that needs priority she’s understanding and she is patient, and as soon as it is finished, she reminds me it’s time to come back and focus on family again. Our families are with us every step of the way in our careers and we welcome them by our side to make sure we get it right.
Q: Why did you join the Air Force?
A: I originally joined the Air Force to be a doctor. I did not think I was qualified to be a pilot. I was a pre-med major at the Air Force Academy, and only one time in my life have I been pilot qualified and it happened to be the day I was in the cadet clinic for a flight physical.
I decided if I became a doctor and later wanted to fly, that would not be possible, but if I decided to become a pilot and later decided to become a doctor I would just go to medical school. I chose the path that preserved both options, and I can certainly say now I’ve never looked back.
I’m quite certain I would have loved to have been a physician in the Air Force, in fact, I still would like to do that, although the time has passed. I have loved every single minute of being a pilot, and as I’ve experienced the Air Force, there are a wide variety of career fields I would give anything to have spent my life engaged in.
Q: Do you have any final comments?
A: Kristin, my son, Mitchell and I could not be more thrilled to be here at Ramstein. We’re here to serve rather than be served, and there is not a group of Airmen in the world we would rather serve than those here at Ramstein.