LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
When Col. William H. Mott V assumed command of the 37th Training Wing last July, his enthusiasm and excitement had no bounds.
That hasn't changed during his tenure here. His facial expressions and tone of voice are lively, just like his first day in charge.
He uses adjectives like "fun," "exciting" and "unique" to describe his first six months at Lackland.
"It's been awesome," said Colonel Mott. "It has been very diverse and fascinating to see all the different things that go on at this base, and how it all comes together."
Describing highlights from the first 180 days, Colonel Mott characterized them in three categories: base visits that occupy his calendar, viewing and working the business side of Lackland, and interacting with the people he comes in contact with as commander.
"It seems like every week there's a new highlight," he said. "The visits by all the people who want to see Lackland serve like dates on a calendar, things you really remember."
He quickly cited hosting the French ambassador and Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley among the many to recently pass through Lackland's gates.
Colonel Mott said escorting various groups around base allows him the opportunity to interact with other commanders and personnel in addition to seeing the various missions up close. "It's very unique how it works out," he said.
He's also found the business side to be intriguing, saying he was fascinated by the process of receiving $2 million for a dorm renovation as well as much smaller dollars to purchase a large flag "that's going to look good to all the parents coming for BMT graduation."
Working with a large base budget, Colonel Mott said watching people take money and resources and turning them into great ideas is another highlight.
"We're breaking ground at IAAFA (the Inter-American Air Forces Academy) for a new maintenance facility, and we're going to see things come off of Kelly and go over onto main base Lackland," he said. The colonel also is excited to see the finishing touches on the Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training course, commonly known as the BEAST, and the Airmen Training Complexes start construction.
But his enthusiasm reaches the next level when he talks about the Airmen.
"I really enjoy having a conversation with a new Airman out of BMT, asking 'where are you from, what are you going to do,' and then seeing the fire in his eyes and the excitement of what he's going to do," said Colonel Mott.
"I enjoy thanking all the NCO who are going out there and making things better for all the trainees, and the people who are coming up with new ideas," he added. "I've had fun going over to DL (Defense Language Institute) and IAAFA to see the international side."
And organizational changes are on the horizon. Joint Base San Antonio kicks into gear next week when the 37th TRW becomes a tenant unit at Lackland as the 502nd Air Base Wing, headquartered at Fort Sam Houston, takes charge of all military support services in San Antonio.
Additionally, the 37th Mission Support Group will be deactivated Tuesday and then reactivated as the 802nd MS, a 502nd ABS unit supporting the 37th TRW and other tenant units on base.
"Right now, the biggest challenge is going to be Joint Base San Antonio," said Colonel Mott. "(Joint basing) is not a foreign concept to the Air Force. The only thing that's different here is the air base wing headquarters has an Army installation tied to it.
"We will face some challenges along the way, but the joint base concept will yield efficiencies for the Air Force and the U. s. Army in this town," he said. "All right, let's get to that level. Let's execute in accordance with the joint base vision and do a better job along the way. I believe this is going to work out just fine."
Another challenge is fortifying the wing' s vision - shape the Air Force with warrior Airmen of character. "We must strengthen the vision by making the necessary applications and changes throughout BMT and technical training," said the colonel.
One way to invigorate the warrior Airmen ethos is to take a look at the BEAST.
"The BEAST is only a year old. Now is the time to really start getting into it," Colonel Mott said. "We've tweaked it a little bit; let's see what we've got to move forward and find ways of improving the training and making it better.
"We've gone through two winters and are starting to see problems with erosion and flood control. We need to fix these problems and improve the facilities, not just the course curriculum," he said.
Colonel Mott also said base leadership would evaluate BMT in preparation for an Air Staff triennial review later this year. "I think this is a big opportunity to make the right changes, listen to inputs and come up with a better BMT course," he added.
The colonel had high praise for the War hawk leadership team. "The vice commander (Col. Gregory Parsons) and command chief (Chief Master Set. Jay Simons) balance my personality and give me great perspective," he said. "Our six group commanders are strong, dynamic leaders who have more ideas than I thought possible, and the strength to carry them out."
He also said Lackland's leadership - the general officers, NCO and civilian leaders - is making a difference on the base for all Airmen and their families, adding "isn't that what the Air Force is all about?"
"I am amazed that whenever I go around base, host a tour group or talk about our mission, Airmen and civilians alike all tell me - with pride - what they do," Colonel Mott said. "As we look forward to 2010, we need to keep our people saying that 'Lackland is a great place to work.'"