Story & photos by
Staff Sgt. Nesha Humes Stanton
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Chief Master Sergeant Randy Kwiatkowski serves as the command chief for Third Air Force, Ramstein Air Base. As the Numbered Air Force’s senior enlisted leader, Kwiatkowski provides guided counsel to the commander and senior leadership on professional development, morale, welfare, and utilization of nearly 30,000 personnel.
Prior to assuming his current position, he served as Chief, Air Force Strategic Integration Group at the Pentagon in Washington D.C.
The 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs office sat down with Kwiatkowski during his immersion to discuss his leadership style and the importance he places on being involved in our Airmen’s development.
Q: What are your priorities as you assume leadership of nine active-duty wings and 90 GSUs?
A: Our area of responsibility is extremely robust, with a lot of Airmen doing a lot of great things to forward project airpower and enhance our strategic partnerships. Beyond my role as an extension of the eyes, ears, and voice of the commander, the key thing I’m focused on is how our Airmen are organized, trained and equipped to do the mission we’re asking them to do. Understandably, there is a steep learning curve here. I need to know what our Airmen are doing, how they are doing it and where they are lacking the resources they need to help them become more effective; which is why this immersion is so vitally important to shaping my perspective.
Q: What are your goals for the enlisted members during your time at the Third Air Force?
A: I hold a firm belief that goals follow passion, and my passion is the development of our Airmen…taking care of our nation’s sons and daughters. Every leader of our enterprise must give the best of themselves to care for our Airmen, and look for creative and innovative ways to continue to grow the enterprise. As a representative of these elite Airmen, we must model the behavior we expect our Airmen to follow. One day, we will hand this opportunity we’ve been given to the next command team, and I want to ensure the next generation of leaders are receiving a team of Airmen who are more equipped, more agile, more lethal and more ready than they were when I got here; essentially, I want to leave my fox hole better than I found it.
Q: We see from your bio, you have served all over from Oklahoma to Belgium, and Colorado to South Korea. How have those assignments prepared you for your new position?
A: Every assignment has been extremely unique, and the opportunities I’ve had to serve around the world have been coupled with phenomenal Airmen who enhanced my development portfolio. Throughout my career, there have been exceptional people and opportunities that pushed me outside of my comfort zone, and I believe that every minute a person spends outside of their comfort zone translates directly to growth, to development—it translates to learning. Every one of my assignments has done exactly that for me—both the people and the opportunities challenged me in amazing ways.
Q: What are some of your hobbies?
A: Each one of my hobbies are deeply rooted in resiliency. Over the course of my career I’ve found things I’m passionate about that also give me time to relax and recharge. The first hobby I picked up nearly 22 years ago is playing guitar. I enjoy playing country music, and I do a little singing every now and then. The second hobby I stumbled upon was a passion for running. I use this time to think through some of the challenges I’m facing, and a good 4-5 mile run does wonders to enable mindfulness to solve some of those challenges. I also really enjoy golfing. I find getting out on a golf course with my son, with some great friends or even by myself, allows me the opportunity to reset. All of these outlets in their own way act as my nirvana of just unplugging and taking the opportunity to have fun and relax.
Q: Who were your most influential mentors and what did they teach you?
A: There is a long line of people who have invested a lot of time and patience into developing who I’ve become. My most important wingman is my wife. Stacey has definitely helped me make some great decisions throughout my career, and she is always there as a sounding board. I learned early on that life is better when I listen to her. Beyond her sage guidance, the one mentor who has the deepest roots to my development is Chief Master Sergeant retired “Iron Mike” Sullivan. Chief Sullivan began mentoring me during my early years in the Air Force, and he is still mentoring me today. Over two decades of influence, Chief Sullivan taught me the value and art of servant leadership. What resonates with me the most from Chief Sullivan’s leadership lessons is he never had to use words; I learned it by watching him, how he carried himself and how he cared for his Airmen. I knew from the moment I met him that he was the type of Airman I wanted to become.
Q: What are you most excited about during your tour at Ramstein?
A: Today is a perfect example of what I’m most excited about; I’m excited about learning from our Airmen. Our Airmen are doing amazing things, and it’s exciting to be part of this experience to gain an understanding how they impact our geo-political society around the globe.
Q: What would you like the men and women of the Third Air Force to know about your leadership style?
A: Successful leadership begins with leaders who are genuine. We can’t pour into Airmen what we don’t have, and there is a lifetime of learning and experiences that go into how we motivate, develop and inspire those around us. Also, there is a level of humility synonymous with great leaders. There is only one way to be a perfect leader, but there are thousands of ways to be an excellent one. Our enterprise isn’t asking for perfection, we ask only for excellence. I also believe great leaders must love what they do. Airmen easily see through leaders who aren’t truly invested. To be effective, we must align our purpose, our cause and our beliefs with the values of this amazing enterprise.
Q: Any closing thoughts?
A: On behalf of my family, we are blessed to be part of this remarkable team. We are humbled by the opportunity to serve alongside some of the greatest Airmen our enterprise has to offer, and we are equally excited to help shape the impact our Airmen across Third Air Force will have on the future of our Air Force.