Rough Rider 1, ready for Team Minot

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Col. Marty Whelan, the 91st Space Wing commander, delivers a speech during his assumption of command ceremony at Dock 7 here July 6. (U.S. Air Force photo by  Staff Sgt. Joe Laws)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Col. Marty Whelan, the 91st Space Wing commander, delivers a speech during his assumption of command ceremony at Dock 7 here July 6. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Laws)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- After assuming command of the 91st Space Wing July 6, Col. Marty Whelan discussed his top priorities, the most exciting and challenging aspects of being the new 91st SW commander, his previous space experience and what he's looking forward to.

"My number one priority is to continue the mission excellence of the 91st SW," he said. "The 91st SW has had impeccable mission performance and that needs to be maintained. People have come to expect a high level of performance from the space wing and it's important the Rough Riders continue that."

Another priority for Colonel Whelan is developing leaders.

"One of the things I think the Air Force went away from when I was younger was its leadership development," he said. "We became managers and we focused more on organizations than on people and leadership. So, I think you'll see me pushing for leadership development everywhere we can. For every incident, every office, every event, there's somebody in charge, whether it be an airman, 1st lieutenant, chief master sergeant or colonel, there's somebody in charge and you have to develop people so that they're ready to be in charge."

According to the new 91st SW commander, taking care of people is vital because they're the most important resource the Air Force has.

"Quality of life is a priority that both Col. Woodie [5th Bomb Wing commander] and I share," he said. "It's important we have the facilities and programs in place to take care of people. Education is also important to me and we need to make sure that we're supporting folks who continue their education."

According to Colonel Whelan, there are many exciting and challenging aspects to being the new 91st SW commander.

"Everything's exciting to me!" he said. "Being out in the field where people are doing the mission by definition is exciting. Everybody brings a unique skill to the fight. So, I want to learn those skills and try to help people understand how they contribute to the fight. So that people can see how their job makes our country better.

"Staying ahead of our enemy is another one of the challenges," he said. "The enemies change their tactics, techniques and procedures and as the enemy changes we have to adapt and stay ahead of them. So you'll see me challenging some of the common thinking of ‘we've always done it this way'. Our enemy is so different that we can't do it the same way because we're predictable or exploitable. There's some bad people in this world and they could do something terrible to our country, whether it's with conventional or nuclear weapons, and so we want to make sure that we prevent them from doing that."

Upon his arrival, Colonel Whelan expressed how impressed he was with the warm welcome he received from Team Minot.

"I was overwhelmed with the greeting that me and my family have received," he said. "I had a lot of people turn out for the change of command and I've got a chance to meet people at the airshow. But more importantly, the greetings at the front gate, at lodging and people waving to me as I drive down the street has been great. People really do make you feel welcome here. That's important for me and my family to feel like we're not outsiders and that has been overwhelming. There are many opportunities to develop my relationship with the community and I'm looking forward to taking advantage of them. So far, I've had a fantastic start and I hope it continues."

According to Colonel Whelan, he's looking forward to participating in the camaraderie between both wings.

"The performance of the space wing and the bomb wing has been spectacular and I want to continue to see that develop," he said. "I also intend to be a great neighbor, both with the bomb wing and the city of Minot. I'm a participatory kind of guy. I like to be involved in the community. And I like to add value. You're not going to see me dividing us and them, but instead, we're on the same team, defending the same constitution, fighting the same enemies, and while we might have two different missions, both are important and we need to execute them together."
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