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News > Feature - A chat with the wing king
New AMC Commander Visits Dover AFB
Gen. Paul J. Selva, (right) commander of Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., is greeted on the flightline by Col. Rick Moore, commander of the 436th Airlift Wing, at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Dec. 6, 2012. Selva visited the base to introduce himself to Team Dover at an All Call during a world-wind tour of AMC Wings throughout December. As commander of AMC, Selva leads all mobility air forces comprised of nearly 134,000 personnel from the active duty, Air National Guard , and Air Force Reserve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Greg L. Davis)
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A chat with the wing king

Posted 12/11/2012   Updated 12/11/2012 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Samuel Taylor
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

12/11/2012 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Col. Rick Moore took command of the 436th Airlift Wing in August 2012. On Dec. 7, he sat down with me to share a bit of his history and views.

Let's start from the beginning. What were your goals and aspirations when you joined?

I went to the U.S. Air Force Academy to become a doctor. I graduated as a chemistry major. I just wanted to serve; I never saw myself as a wing commander. I just wanted to do my best and contribute to national defense. My grandfather was a naval aviator, my dad was an Air Force navigator - serving was something that was important to me. I didn't think it was going to get me here.

Did you join knowing that you were going to make it a career?

I saw that as a probability. I never made the decision [to stay in], I was just having so much fun and couldn't imagine doing anything else.

Now, this is your second time serving at Dover AFB; you were here before as an executive officer?

Yes, that's correct.

How have those two viewpoints of Dover AFB changed over the years?

There has been about $350 million in construction since I left - the base has never looked better. Our challenges remain the same: to move a mountain of cargo to the area of responsibility. Our Airmen do that in a remarkably first-class world-class way; I can't imagine any group of Airmen doing better. That challenge has not changed, nor do I see it changing in the near term.

What is different is the quantity of equipment coming back in the retrograde from the war that is not what anyone is used to seeing in a book. It has been battle-damaged; it has been wrecked; it's up on blocks; and our aerial port Airmen everyday solve the puzzle of getting it safely off the aircraft into the yard and on a truck to be shipped to the depot for repairs or disposal. That's a fairly new challenge for them. The way they reacted, I couldn't be prouder.

I'd like to talk about your leadership style. Would you say you have a style?

In general, I would say my leadership style is to take my job very seriously, and myself not at all. [The job] has to be fun. It's too hard of work not to have a good time. If anybody can laugh at me more than me, I'd like to meet 'em.

Then I'm curious, what is fun to you?

For me, the thing that keeps me in the Air Force is the Airmen I work with. There is nothing better than the bonds that form between people that tackle complex problems and solve them. The thing I remember about the places I've been stationed is not the place, but the folks. The people that I've been stationed with are the memories I carry from base to base. The Airmen in our Air Force are what has kept me in.

Getting back to leadership, I wonder if your leadership style has changed over time. Do you think Capt. Moore would see eye-to-eye with Col. Moore if they were to meet today?

I don't know if I would; I don't think so. I don't know that there has been a radical shift in my leadership style, but I don't know that I was a comfortable or confident leader when I was a captain. I may look back sometime in the future as a civilian or somebody else in the military and say the same thing about Col. Moore, but my time in the Air Force and my experiences have solidified my thoughts on leadership.

I am a continuous scholar of leadership, as all good leaders are. So I think that the way I would characterize that is not a significant change in my leadership style, but a solidification of my confidence as a leader.

Has self-reflection played into that solidification?

Absolutely. Self-reflection and experience and continued study and life experience.

Now I'd like to ask you about your priorities, both as a leader and as the 436th Airlift Wing commander.

Sure. Our grade as commanders is mission readiness and accomplishment. The way we do that very well is with well-trained, well-led and well-cared-for Airmen. Taking care of our Airmen comes right on the heels of accomplishing our mission. The mission does not, and will not, accomplish itself. It is accomplished by Airmen who are well-trained, well-led and well-cared-for.

Once we've done those things, we have to think about the future. Once we've accomplished today's mission, what are we doing to posture ourselves to be ready for tomorrow's mission? In the military this is a difficult question because we don't know what tomorrow's mission is. We have an idea of what kinds of things we think we may have to deal with, but at the end of the day we have no idea what will come. So we prepare across the full range of our operational capabilities, and make sure that, whatever it is, we are ready to answer the call.

And in an interpersonal sense, perhaps when you are interacting with the Airmen on base, what are your priorities to them?

I think we all ought to focus on balance in our lives. There are times when the mission and the job have to come first. There are other times when family needs to come first. When I get that balance wrong, my wife lets me know. But it's important to me that we all have a sense that the mission and the job can't always be first. There are times when family has to come first. We, as leaders in the Air Force, say that family is important to us; there ought to come a time when we demonstrate that.

That leads into another question I had: where does that ability to balance your family and duty come from? Experience? Trial and error?

Sure, and I'll tell you, I get it wrong all the time. When I do, my wife lets me know that I've gotten it wrong. It takes consistent effort, insight and rebalancing to get the balance right. Ultimately, it's never exactly right, but if it ever gets too far out, that's when there is a problem.

It sounds like you really rely on your family for support.


I'd like to change gears and ask you if you have red-button issue - one that you are not willing to budge on.

I do not tolerate any integrity violations. That is a one-shot kill. Anybody that tells me something that they know to be incorrect, I am done with them; that's one strike and you're out. I'll tolerate any number of failures from well-meaning Airmen who are attempting to do their job in an innovative or better way. If they are trying to do things better, faster, safer or smarter, there will be failures along the way, otherwise we have not pressed the boundaries. But I will not tolerate any violation of integrity.

This is a question that I fielded from an Airman on base. These days, many Airmen feel that the pressure of ancillary career pursuits, such as secondary education, additional duties, etc., has taken the focus off their primary duties. Have you noticed this trend? If so, what is your guidance for how to balance those priorities?

I have noticed this trend. It is time for us to take a look at balance in our professional lives. Our Air Force is asking a lot, especially of junior and midgrade officers. This is on the chief of staff's radar; we talked about it last week when he spoke with all the wing commanders in Washington D.C. It's something that he realizes that we need to look at from an Air Force perspective. I'm grateful for the chief's insight on this and pleased that he has decided to take it on as an issue that needs his attention. I hope that we will see a positive decision from the chief's level that tells us where the balance ought to lie.

Where does that balance lie for you?

At the end of the day, there are a certain number of things that we are all responsible for accomplishing in a given period of time. We have to get them done; it's part of the program. That doesn't mean that the mission always has to win in our life balance. There are times that family has to win, and I attempt to do that as well. But at the end of the day, we have a list of responsibilities and we need to discharge them - it's our mission as Airmen.

Any last words?

I am here to work for the Airmen of this base, and ensure that they have the resources to accomplish their mission. If at some point we have failed at that, I need to know. I count on them to tell me.

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