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Team Travis’ innovation, worldwide role on display in visit
Story by A1C Christian Conrad on 03/12/2019
TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. Members of 18th Air Force toured Travis Air Force Base, California, March 4 to 8, sampling the airpower Team Travis brings to the fight around the world.
The five-day tour culminated in a base-wide all call during which Maj. Gen. Sam Barrett and Chief Master Sgt. Chris Simpson, 18th AF commander and command chief, addressed Travis Airmen directly and described the importance of each of their contributions to the Mobility mission.
“Our Air Force is the greatest in the world because of the job each and every one of you do every day,” Barrett said during the all call. “If I’m going to hammer anything home today, it’s the idea that we don’t succeed alonewe succeed together.”
Simpson reiterated the importance of airmanship and family at the squadron level, not only as a means to motivate, but also as a means of building stronger Airmen.
“If you believe you’re part of a team that values you and has your back and you have theirs, and that what you’re doing is really important, there’s nothing more powerful than that,” said Simpson. “That’s how you build resilient Airmen. You take care of people and foster that sense of belonging.”
Resilience is just one part of the readiness equation, though, Simpson said.
In light of the Air Force’s recent uptick in innovation efforts, Travis has set itself apart from other bases in 18th AF as an enterprising heavyweight. As the base responsible for the Air Force-wide Spark initiative, Travis sits on the cusp of a new era of airpower.
“Your Spark Tank is something every Airman on this base should be proud of,” said Barrett. “The kind of projects and applicable technologies that come out of there is getting the attention of our adversaries and you know what? I’m glad. I want our adversaries to know 18th Air Force flies, fights and always wins.
Creating a culture of innovation and Airmen empowerment is one thing, though. What’s the next step, according to Barrett? Sustaining it.
“The thing about Spark, though, is that it’s exactly that: a spark,” he said. “Innovation isn’t something that has a start and finish line. It’s constant. It is up to every Airman to stoke the embers of innovation, to seek out new methods and improve our processes. Don’t look for other people to fix your problems. Be that person yourself. Go out of your way to change the Air Force for the better.”
In light of the recent emergence of near-peer adversaries on the world stage, the need for substantive innovation has never been greater, said Simpson.
“When you think of the Air Force’s mission of flying, fighting and winning, the winning’ part doesn’t mean squeaking out a three-point margin in the final seconds,” said Simpson. “It’s about walking away with a 51-0 shutout. When we talk about coming to work with passion, that’s what we’re referring to. You need to attack every day with intensity. That’s what 18th AF Airmen do.”
With a combined 62 years in the Air Force, Barrett and Simpson chose to part Team Travis with a final gesture of togetherness.
“I’ve spent my entire life in and around this wonderful Air Force,” said Barrett. “It is my family, which makes all of you my family.”