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Incoming Commander introduces himself to Wing

Col. Kirk "Tick" Pierce is the new 173rd Fighter Wing commander as of January 10, 2015.  (U.S. Air Force photo / released)

Col. Kirk "Tick" Pierce is the new 173rd Fighter Wing commander as of January 10, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo / released)

KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. -- As I attend my first drill weekend as an Oregon guardsman, I look forward to meeting and getting to know you over the next few months. All of you, Airman and civilian, have a well-deserved reputation for providing selfless service to our Nation and the state of Oregon.  I am extremely proud and honored to join you as a member of this great wing.

As I assume command of the 173rd Fighter Wing, it is humbling to follow in the footsteps of Col. Jeremy "Weed" Baenen, an exceptional leader. While it will take some time to meet everyone in the wing, I'd like to take this opportunity to provide a snapshot of my command philosophy and vision for the 173rd.

I firmly believe that command is a sacred responsibility. Furthermore, I believe in the Air Force's core values and that they start with integrity for a reason. My responsibility is to foster an atmosphere that empowers honesty and emphasizes professional standards. To this end, I expect each of you to tell me the truth, give your best effort every day, and never accept compromise when it comes to our core values. I demand you hold me to the same high standard. As the "Land of No Slack", I know you will.

My vision for the 173rd Fighter Wing is simple; emphasize the mission, people, and future. As the ANG and the Air Force face significant fiscal challenges and uncertainty, we must ensure the wing is prepared for current and future operations, focused on providing superior support and care to Airman and their families, and infused with a sense of confidence in who we are and where we are going.

My primary charge is to keep the wing trained and ready to execute assigned federal and state missions. Each mission is too important to risk failure due to a slip in leadership focus. To this end, I will meet with our frontline supervisors, the Senior NCOs, to learn more about the issues that impact the enlisted force's ability to focus on the mission. These engagements will help concentrate my efforts to identify and remove obstacles to mission accomplishment. I do not accept mission failure excuses that start with "because I did not have..." I will foster proactive supervisors who recognize shortfalls early, try to solve them, and failing that, I welcome sentences that start with, "we will fail unless you, Col. Pierce..."

The strength and future of every wing resides in its Airman and civilians without which the mission will fail. I strongly believe the Air National Guard must develop flexible, adaptive, and resilient Airman that are prepared to meet the challenges confronting the total force. It is my responsibility to foster a culture where Airman are not only subject matter experts in their assigned AFSC, but also have meaningful opportunity to engage in professional development, gain mentoring as they work through the ranks, and have clear, direct feedback in regard to their job performance. Additionally, there must be commitment at all levels to support the families of our Airman and sustained engagement with their civilian employers. Airmen can meet and overcome almost any adversity when they are confident that the wing supports them, their family, and their employer.

Finally, I'll strive to help each individual in the 173rd know their contributions are important and to take pride in the wing's accomplishments. If I can help each Airman think of the mission first and understand the consequences of their decisions on others in the wing, then the 173rd Fighter Wing will have an unlimited future. To those I hope to serve - the Airman and civilians in the 173rd--I am eager to assume the  responsibility of command.