High capability, high demand: Expeditionary reconnaissance squadron in Europe fulfills transregional requirements

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

Lt. Col. Jeremy Verbout is the 1st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron commander in Europe. Verbout’s squadron is responsible for U-2 Dragon Lady operations in nearby regions and is essential in providing high-altitude intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to combatant commanders.

The imagery the U-2 collects is critical in allowing our nation’s leaders to make decisions to help meet national security objectives.

“When you are in a leadership position it is important to ask yourself what your intent is and what you are trying to accomplish. Clarity of your intent and being able to relay it is critical. I try and place a lot of trust in the people I work with. I give them my vision and let them go do the job and be the functional expert in their career field,” Verbout said.

The 1st ERS is empowering their Airmen to put their skills to the test and deliver the capabilities of the  U-2 to decision makers throughout the region. 

“When you let them go get the job done sometimes people fail and as a leader you need to let people fail. Give people the latitude to fail and don’t come down on them too hard when it happens. Chances are they will probably learn more from failure than they would have from success. Simply debrief them on whatever went wrong and work together to figure out a better way to accomplish the task so it doesn’t happen in the future. In my opinion, lack of failure breeds mediocrity.

“Leadership also means we don’t just focus on the failures of others; we need to reflect on our own failures as leaders. I don’t get it right every day and I don’t think I ever will. One recent failure of mine is when I blew both of my tires during a landing [aircraft]; nothing too serious happened but I could have done a better job. So, I sat down with a more experienced U-2 Dragon Lady pilot and discussed with him what I could have done better. Then I briefed the incident at a commander's call in front of my squadron. Me taking ownership of my mistakes gives the people I work with the confidence to do the same.”