9th Reconnaissance Wing leadership undertakes culture shift with new mission, priorities and vision

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Frederick A. Brown
  • 9 RW/PA

Assuming command during the summer of 2022, Col. Geoffrey Church, 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Breana Oliver, 9th RW command chief, focused their efforts on devising a cultural shift within the wing at Beale Air Force Base.

The newly established leadership team realigned the base mission and vision statement to a simple but strategic front that encompasses why Beale exists and how to achieve the Air Force mission.

Mission Statement: Deliver persistent, integrated reconnaissance and combat power for our nation.

Vision Statement: Empowered Airmen driving decision advantage and lethal force, protecting our way of life.

When asked about what these words mean, particularly what it means to be integrated, Church described a process for mission success greater than just the wing but reaching across the Air Force.

The reconnaissance gathered by the U-2 Dragon Ladies, along with other reconnaissance aircraft such as the RQ-4 Global Hawk at Grand Forks AFB’s 319th RW, feeds into information collected and assessed by intelligence units such as the 548th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group on Beale. Meanwhile, munitions specialists around the Air Force are trained at the 9th Munitions Squadron, Air Force Combat Ammunition Center. The reconnaissance gathered, intelligence assessed, and munitions created are all part of an integrated system designed to ensure the Air Force achieves its mission.

“It’s training all of our aviators and support personnel that it’s not just this one tribe, it’s all of the tribes that have to come together in order to get lethal effects on the target,” said Church.

Beyond the mission, there are guiding principles to explain exactly how the 9th RW will achieve its mission. This is where Church and Oliver’s culture shift begins to take form.

“We have to communicate, we have to talk, we have to rebuild trust across the entire enterprise, and be willing to admit mistakes,” said Church. “We need to try every day to be better today than we were yesterday.”

Oliver discussed the ideology at the core of the culture being built at Beale as relationship-based and people-focused.

“It’s all relationship-based, so we want Airmen to value and put effort into their personal relationships, but also put time and effort into maintaining positive relationships with those we work with every day,” said Oliver. “It’s not just here at Beale or this U-2 enterprise, it’s this whole global mission, and allowing people to have a positive outlook on what they contribute to the Air Force, and what they contribute to their partners in an integrated system.”

Church and Oliver laid out the tenets of their culture shift through three principles: simplify, unify, and win.

“The goal of simplify is not to take the simple things and make them harder than they have to be, and then save your energy for all the really hard things we need to get after,” said Oliver. “This way everyone affiliated with the 9th Reconnaissance Wing understands what we’re doing and what they need to do for the integrated Air Force mission.”

While describing what it means to unify, Oliver expressed how service members are unified in service to the nation.

“When we build relationships and have positive engagements with people, that allows us to be united in the things we’re getting after and that ultimately is fighting the Nation’s wars and defending the homeland,” said Oliver. “What is sustainable is being united and having the faith that when you call on somebody, they will be there to help you.”

The idea of unifying together as taking care of one another is integral to a warrior culture while serving alongside wingmen. This is how Church and Oliver believe the 9th RW will win.

“The nation demands we win, the only reason we exist, the United States military, is to win our nation’s wars,” said Church. “Winning for me means if called to arms we will get this done, but it also means taking care of my family, and all the families across this installation, because we want to give you back to your family, to society, in a better place than where you came from.”

Church wants Beale to invest in making each service member and their family into the best version of themselves. In return, this growth will propel readiness and tenacity to focus on mission accomplishment.

“You will be asked to do hard things in the military and make sacrifices for the mission, but winning also means it is a priority to have an environment that is conducive to building relationships,” said Oliver. “Asking for help and letting people know about your circumstance can make you more fit to fight, more ready to win.”

Leading by example is an Air Force value that Church and Oliver strive to adhere by and share with Airmen that they too can emulate. Church makes it a priority to take his children to school as often as possible, while Oliver reads to her children before bed, despite living in a different time zone from her family. Extending these same privileges to service members at Beale is a form of caring for them.

Church and Oliver believe the resilience needed to win our nation’s battles can be built by giving time to service members to care for themselves and their families, along with championing a culture of caring for each other.

“Investing in our people now will pay dividends when the time comes in making sure the United States is successful in its campaigns,” said Oliver. “We can build resilient teams with coping skills and positive outlooks, that overcome those challenges united.”

Church summarized his thoughts by laying out his ultimate vision.

“The goal is to build resilient humans,” said Church. “The mission will always take care of itself, but people will not. You have to invest time and resources into people, then get out of their way. With empowered Airmen that have these tools and relationships, there is nothing they cannot do, there is nothing they cannot achieve.”