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News > Feature - 3rd time’s the charm; Colonel returns for group commander duty
3rd time’s the charm; Colonel returns for group commander duty

Posted 9/5/2008   Updated 9/5/2008 Email story   Print story

    


by Airman 1st Class Daryl Knee
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs


9/5/2008 - FE WARREN AFB, WYO. -- The 90th Mission Support Group incorporates multiple functions and programs to support and sustain the life and mission of Warren. 

To lead such a vast group requires a certain characteristic not many possess. 

"I thrive on structured chaos," said Col. Kathleen Cook, the new 90th MSG commander. 
"Every day I go to work is different. That's what makes it fun -- opportunities to make a difference and to ensure Warren is a place people want to be." 

This is the colonel's third tour to Warren: one tour as the chief of public affairs and another tour as the deputy of the 90th MSG and director of wing staff. 

"I love it here," she said. "I love the base, the mission and the community. It's a great place to live, and it's a great place to raise children ... let's put it this way, my children call this area home." 

Being familiar with Warren, Colonel Cook said she has a firm grasp with how the mission is completed here and how certain aspects can change for the better. 

"The key to mission success is building relationships with the people with whom we work ," she said. "By doing this, everyone understands they are valued for who they are and what they do, and from that develops a sense of pride in performance. I believe that ultimately, it's that personal pride that helps us define our passion to serve. I'm disappointed when I hear someone say, 'I'm just a ... chef' or 'I'm just an Airman.' No one is 'just' anything," Colonel Cook said. 

"Every job, whatever it is, and every single person is critical to our Air Force mission." 

Also, as a leader, she said it's important to trust subject-matter experts. Rank has no business with being an expert. 

"If a two-striper is the expert on something," she said, "well guess what? They're the expert. I expect them to be at the top of their game and will trust in their counsel. If that's your task, you got it. Like I said earlier, it's important to create an environment where everyone has value and a purpose." 

One purpose of the mission support group is to take care of the morale, welfare and recreational needs of the Airmen and their families assigned here. 

"We have the best job on base because every day, we have the opportunity to positively influence the lives of everyone assigned to Warren," Colonel Cook said. "This winter you'll see a surge in our MWR programs to help improve unit and family readiness as well as influence overall mission success." 

Commanding or working within the mission support group is not a nine-to-five job, she said, and it does not have anything to do with extended hours. 

"Many people at Warren deploy in place," Colonel Cook said. "Many more deploy overseas into harm's way for 6-9 months at a time. With the challenges this type of mission presents, it's important to ensure everything possible is done to improve our individual, unit, and family readiness. For the mission support group, this is a 24/7, 365 obligation." 

The colonel said she has learned a few truths from her 26 years of service and her time as an enlisted Airman. 

"Steal every moment you can to make your time in the Air Force special," she said. 

"Approach each day in a way that captures and celebrates the joys of life. Find enjoyment in and a passion for the Air Force. And remember, at the end of the day, it's the people and the relationships that you'll treasure." 

Colonel Cook struggled with her next words. 

"You can never say what you really mean to say in an interview like this," she said. "It's difficult to convey my passion and commitment for what I do; words fall flat.
"
I love what we do here," she said with a shrug. "No question about it. It's the reason my family and I have been here three times. 

"That and being lucky," Colonel Cook said with a laugh.



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