OG commander's career comes full circle

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jason Wiese
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
Most Airmen are required to take leave to go home. For a fortunate few, being at work and being at home are one and the same.

Col. Ron Allen, 90th Operations Group commander, is one of the fortunate ones. He began his career in the operational Air Force here, and for about a month, he has been back at his old stomping grounds.

"The return to Cheyenne was a return home," he said.

Allen's first assignment after graduating missileer training in Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., was F.E. Warren, and he met his wife during his first tour here.

"It's where it all started for us," he said. "We've been on an amazing journey ever since."

His journey began in Hot Springs, Ark., where he was born to Ronny and Cathy Allen.

"My dad and mom come from a rural farming background," he said.

Allen's parents instilled in him a sense of humility; a strong, blue-collar work ethic; and the belief in expecting the best out of those around him, he said. This is what he attributes his success to in the Air Force.

"I don't think success in [the missile] business is different from success anywhere else," he said.

He attended Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, where he was a member of the Corps of Cadets, a prestigious ROTC program that commissions more officers than any other university program other than the service academies.

After graduation in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering, Allen became a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. Since then, he has been stationed at 12 different duty locations, but his first assignment was to F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., where he is now commander of the 90th Operations Group.

"Just like any Airman, multiple moves and family separations are tough for all of us to endure, but as a family, we're dedicated to serve, and that's who we are," he said.

Allen speaks in terms of "we" and "us," a testament to his family-oriented nature.

"Right now, the thing that's taking up most of my family's free time is shuttling my kids back and forth to baseball games and practice," he said.

Allen describes his leadership style as people-focused.

"It's kind of like the golden rule," he said. "Treat others the way you would want to be treated, hold them accountable for their actions and treat them right, and they'll rise to the challenge."

He said he thinks leaders are sometimes too focused on trying to catch people doing things wrong and correcting them. Leaders should regularly try to "catch" their subordinates doing the right thing.

"A good pat on the back is needed at times as much as a counseling session to get people back on the right track," he said.

Leadership lessons can come from anywhere. One place is media like movies and books.

"I enjoyed the movie -- and the book -- We Were Soldiers," Allen said. "I liked Good to Great by Jim Collins, the storytelling style and lessons of Malcom Gladwell, and Simon Sinek's recent books, Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last. But of course, for the nuclear community, Dr. Strangelove can't be beat."

Leadership lessons can also come from poor examples of leadership, Allen said.

Early in his career, Allen had a poor leader as a superior who kept a cardboard cutout of John Wayne as a cowboy, he said. After discussing this with Airmen in the 90th OG, he was gifted with a cutout of John Wayne of his own that he keeps in his office as a reminder to not behave like the poor leader from his past.

As for the people he is leading, Allen said he is thrilled at what he has seen during his time here so far.

"I am thoroughly impressed," he said. "We have a tremendous team of folks established here. I'm truly humbled and thrilled to be serving with them.

"When you surround yourself with high-quality people and you treat them right, the mission kind of takes care of itself."

The men and women of the 90th Operations Group directly contribute to the Wing's mission of defending America with the world's premier combat ready ICBM force, he said. The nuclear combat capability they provide enables the President with strategic military options, while also inducing pause for any potential adversary.

Looking into the future, Allen said his goals would be to ensure safe, secure and effective nuclear operations through developing leaders and taking care of our family, both at home and at work.

Throughout Allen's lengthy Air Force career, he said his most rewarding and important position is the one he has now.

"Total focus on your current position is always job one," he said. "To couple that with a return to where my career began has been an unbelievable experience."