OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- After a few weeks on the ground here and getting to know the Airmen of the 51st Fighter Wing, Col. Andrew Hansen, the wing's new commander, sat down with me to discuss his values and expectations for his Airmen and wing.
Tech. Sgt. Travis Edwards: Welcome to Osan sir, how do you and your family like it here so far?
Col. Andrew Hansen: It's always tough to move and transition to a new place, especially with a family. But so far it's been great; we've had a great transition team and I had an excellent handoff from my predecessor. The mission and the base could not be in better shape right now, which is a huge benefit. So, we like it here so far; there are a lot of things to do. Paige and I have already been out antique shopping.
TE: You've been assigned to a Pacific Air Forces base at least three times prior to taking command here. Do you feel that previous experience has prepared you for this position?
AH: I think it has helped me prepare for this opportunity to command. The mission at Misawa Air Base, [Japan], helped me understand more about what they bring to the table in relation to the mission here. That operational knowledge has allowed me to be better prepared for potential contingencies and exercises.
Additionally, the cold months as the aggressor squadron commander in Alaska allowed us to train at many other PACAF bases, including Osan AB, which helped me better understand the PACAF [operational theater] and the importance each mission and base has to it.
TE: Are you excited about your first exercise here?
AH: I am absolutely ready and excited for our first exercise. Exercises are difficult and there are good reasons for that exertion. But, when it is all said and done and you finish tired and exhausted, you are now that much more prepared for future endeavors. Not to mention, the more realistic the practice, the better you test what your capabilities are, and in the process, you get to know your mission and people better. Don't be afraid to fail. Learn from these exercises; you're going to have some successes, you're going to have some failures -- and the whole idea is to get better every time we do this by capitalizing on those victories and learning from the failures.
TE: What are your expectations of the Airmen of the 51st Fighter Wing?
AH: I expect our Airmen to be committed to our Air Force core values. That doesn't ring anymore loudly than right here at Osan Air Base. We have a mission here that requires our ability as a force to always be ready. Additionally, we must maintain our discipline. Discipline can cover many different aspects of our life and career. For instance, we can be disciplined about drinking: ensuring we know our own tolerance to avoid the potential for an alcohol-related incident. Another aspect to discipline is bettering yourself as an Airman though personal and professional education. I expect Airmen to take advantage of the opportunities available to them while here. The gain here is two-fold; on one hand, the Airman betters himself, and on the other, the Air Force retains an educated force.
TE: What facet of the Air Force do you find to be the most valuable?
AH: Opportunity. No other occupation gives the opportunity to do a job that so unique; to serve a higher calling in support of the U.S. and its allies. Take a look at the world outside of the military. Yes, some people make more money but - but many don't have that sense of purpose and accomplishment that comes serving in a profession of arms. I also see that the longer you are in, you more you start to understand and take advantage of the opportunities available. You will be hard-pressed to find a job that puts this much interest, time and money into the development of our Airmen as experts and leaders in their specialty.
TE: How do plan on balancing your personal and professional life with the increased demand placed on you as the fighter wing commander, installation commander, and as a husband and father?
AH: Discipline is the word that sums it all up for me. I know, from extensive experience, that I must get up early to do some personal reading and to workout. I have to be disciplined to force myself into eventually making it a habit. After that, my day is usually planned out in advance, so I know what is coming up. But, after the day is done, I make time to come home to enjoy dinner with my family. That's the stuff that's important to me. Being physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally fit is necessary; I get a lot of that from my family and my job. I love my job and I am truly thankful to have my family here to experience it with me.
TE: Any final departing words for our Airmen?
AH: There's a tremendous responsibility and legacy that has been built up over the years here and I promise to do everything in my power to not let myself, the wing, nor my Airmen down.