New wing commander Q&A: mission, priorities and leadership

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Luther Mitchell Jr.
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

Shortly after assuming command of the 621st Contingency Response Wing, Col. Travis Edwards participated in a wing immersion at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, where he learned about the various mission sets within the CRW. At the end of his immersion, he was asked ten questions. Here are his answers.

What have you learned about the CRW since taking command?

The 621st Contingency Response Wing does a lot more than I realized coming from a unit outside the CR enterprise. When I thought about contingency response, I thought about hurricane response and task force port opening missions, but I wasn’t tracking all the things we are doing to build partnerships and the things that are happening behind the scenes that are critically important to national security. I'm looking forward to us as Devil Raiders talking about what we bring to the fight.

Can you share your thoughts on your East Coast immersion and what you're looking forward to most during your immersion on the West Coast?

The east coast immersion was where I really had the opportunity to understand our four mission sets. Now when I go out to the West Coast, this will give me an opportunity to compare and contrast what we have as far as equipment and how we operate at our host installations. I'm told there are some differences as far as the infrastructure at each base. I want to get an idea of where we’re at on both coasts and what each group’s strengths are so that we can move out together as one team.

What is your message to the Airmen, families, and friends of the 621st CRW?

I firmly believe that as the wing commander and the commanders that I serve with, it is our responsibility to take care of Airmen and their families. I want the Airmen and their families to know that what they do matters, and that they are critical to our success.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in command?

My main goal is to continue to carry the message about the great things that are happening within the contingency response wing. We are on the leading edge of where our Air Force is going when we think about being agile and light multi-capable Airmen, and agile combat employment. These are things I firmly believe we are doing right now, and we can continue to work with the larger air force to advance those concepts as we move forward.

What are your priorities?

My priorities are the priorities that have been in place under the previous commander. I plan to maintain these priorities for at least the next 60 days, then I will make a determination on whether or not we will adjust. Those priorities are Mission, Airmen, and Families. That is what we are going to continue to roll with because I personally believe those are the values we must embody as a professional, warfighting organization. We may modify some things here and there, but I do not anticipate wholesale changes on our priorities.

Can you describe your leadership style?

My leadership style focuses on people, collaboration, and empowering Airmen to get after their mission set. And I think it’s important that we have fun while doing that. I like to make sure decisions are being made at the right level, and Airmen are focused on the mission and how to do it better. I want to foster a culture where they don’t feel the need to ask permission to do everything. They are moving out, being bold and moving us forward as an organization.

What or who inspires and motivates you?

There are people that motivate me that don't realize that they do. A lot of my motivation comes from my family. We all have different skillsets that we bring to the table and most of my motivation comes from folks who are close to me that I spend a lot of time with. I also have people that I look at their story, some athletes like Michael Jordan or trail blazers  like Oprah Winfrey, who have unique stories, which are all about persevering. Throughout the day, I'm always looking for those motivational stories -- Airmen stories, family stories -- that let me know that I have to keep pushing forward regardless of the obstacles placed before me.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

People would be surprised to learn that I'm excited to be a wing commander because it's not something that I had always aspired to be. My aspiration has always been to lead and take care of people. Being a wing commander was never one of my top professional goals but one of the goals that I did set early on was to be a squadron commander. Squadron commanders have a great impact on the lives of Airmen. After I had an opportunity to do that, it motivated me to continue, but to continue from the perspective of focusing on Airmen. I enjoy taking care of people and being a part of great teams, but the position of wing commander was not something that I was inspired to be.

How would you describe yourself? Who is Col. Edwards to the people who don't know you?

I'm Travis Edwards. Typically, when I introduce myself to people, I introduce myself as Travis Edwards. Colonel Edwards represents being an O-6 in the U.S. Air Force and performing my duties as a senior leader. Whereas Travis Edwards represents the same thing but in a way that allows me to create a culture where people are comfortable telling Travis Edwards, “Here are the things that we need to work on.” My goal is for my rank to not be a barrier to people giving me a transparent answer, so they can be honest with me about what is going on in our unit and within our culture. Travis Edwards is all about empowering people because every member of our organization is important. We all have a role to play, and we are all critically important.

What do you like to do in your free time?

One of the things that I really enjoyed doing when we were in Germany is traveling. Getting out with my family, experiencing new things, and eating good food. One of the things I love about traveling is you get an opportunity to just meet people. It doesn't matter your title or rank; you have an opportunity to focus on being authentic and enjoying the world.