Meet your new leadership: 39th CONS commander, Maj. Bennet Burton

Maj. Bennet Burton is the commander of the 39th Contracting Squadron. Burton took command of the 39th CONS July 8, 2014, Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eboni Reams/Released)

Maj. Bennet Burton is the commander of the 39th Contracting Squadron. Burton took command of the 39th CONS July 8, 2014, Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eboni Reams/Released)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- This summer brought in many new faces to Incirlik AB. Many of these Airmen are new squadron commanders, group commanders and even a vice wing commander. To help members of Team Incirlik gain a better understanding of who their leadership is and what their expectations may be, the 39th Air Base Wing public affairs office, is releasing a series of personality features on our new leaders.

Question: Why did you decide to join the Air Force and why do you continue to serve?

Answer: I joined Air Force ROTC (go Det 810!) my junior year of college to help offset some of my college costs. However, my initial reason for joining the military quickly changed when I watched the Twin Towers collapse with a couple of friends. It just so happened that the people around me were volunteer firefighters, a medic and a United States Marine Corps veteran. Suddenly, the financial benefits of joining the military quickly faded and my mission and vision became clear: "I am an American fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense." (Article I of the Code of Conduct)

Q: What is one of your proudest achievements in your military career?

A: The proudest achievement in my military career actually occurred at the very onset: my graduation from college and commissioning into the Air Force. To provide some background, I started to work at the early age of 12 by helping my parents with our family-owned business. My parents taught me quite a few lessons, such as: what hard work looked like, customer service, how to stock a warehouse, clean and the value of the dollar.

I was fortunate enough to continue working (almost full-time hours) throughout high school at a local grocery store. During this time, I worked hard at school and my job, it paid dividends as I ended up getting accepted into Baylor University and received multiple scholarships from my job. While attending Baylor, I continued to work extremely hard and actually had to pick up another job to help pay for school tuition and books. All in all, I was working well over 40 hours a week, a full time student, while also meeting my commitments to AFROTC (go DET 810!). So short story long, my graduation and commissioning represented nearly a decade of hard work, sacrifices (e.g., hanging out with friends), and dedication. I was the third person in my entire family to receive a Bachelor's degree and the first person to receive a Masters.

Q: Is there a leader from your career that influenced you the most? If so, who, and how did they affect the way you lead?

A: I have been extremely fortunate to be led or mentored by some of the best and brightest. From combat veterans, such as my grandfather, to supervisors with PhDs in electrical engineering, I have experienced the gamut in leadership styles and philosophies. My interactions with these individuals, both good and bad, over the course of my career significantly affected how I lead today. I find that my leadership style is an amalgamation of their attributes and incorporation of their lessons learned that I now employ. As I continue in the Air Force, I look forward to more opportunities to interact with leadership so that I can continue learn and adapt to our ever-changing environment.

Q: Leaders often face a significant challenge or watershed moment early on in their careers that influence their formation as leaders. Did you have any moments like these that helped shape you into the leader you are today?

A: I think the most challenging moment early on in my career that provided significant influence in my development occurred while I was at Kadena AB, Okinawa, Japan. I was a freshly minted Capt. and new to contracting when my Squadron Commander (Lt. Col.) was tasked to deploy. I was asked to fill in for several months as the acting squadron commander. This couldn't have happened at a more crucial time as we were within 9 months of a unit compliance inspection and our staff assistance visit had pretty much told us we were in trouble. As a young officer, I was always interested in what this type of job entailed; however, I quickly found out how challenging, dynamic and taxing it is to be a commander. I was forced, albeit through some significant emotional events, how to better communicate (especially bad news), prioritize and lead a large group of individuals. I knew what hard work looked like but this definitely tested my limits. All in all, we did a great job with the inspection and I'm so humbled to have been afforded that opportunity because it helped shape me into the leader I am today.

Q: What is your personal mission statement?

A: My personal mission statement incorporates my faith, family and my ability to work hard, be efficient, technically proficient and most importantly, stands up and do the right thing as integrity is your bond.

Q: What values and ethics are the most important you, and what do you expect from your Airmen?

A: Honestly, I would challenge someone to come up with a better set of values that beat our Air Force core values. I think that Integrity First, Service before Self, and Excellence in All We Do perfectly sum up my values, ethics and expectations from my Airmen. We need to passionately protect the image of our nation, our Air Force and our contracting profession so anything less is unacceptable.

Q: What is your strategic vision for your organization?

A: To make the 39th Air Base Wing the greatest wing ever through innovative solutions, being responsive, reliable, and mission ready.

Q: What are your leadership goals as a commander while here at Incirlik?

A: The contracting profession is filled with top-notch folks and I am humbled to be surrounded by them each day. However, we need to ensure we continue to develop and sustain a culture recognized for its competency, courage and professionalism. We must maintain our combat edge to ensure the wing commander can achieve his vision, mission and goals.

Q: What are some of your expectations for the Airmen you lead, and why?

A: My expectations from my Airmen are that they will follow the great baseball player Satchel Paige's pitching philosophy, "Throw strikes. Home plate doesn't move." I expect my folks to focus on mission and the criticality of our job in supporting the wing. I hope they will bring their absolute best each and every day.

Q: What are your mission expectations from the units you lead?

A: My mission expectations from the squadron are to develop and execute responsive strategies and compliant sourcing solutions to enable the wing's mission and priorities.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: I am extremely blessed to be selected for this position and even more to be married to my wonderful wife, Missy Burton. As some of you may or may not know, Missy is a Maj. (select) in the U. S. Air Force Reserve and is a former force support officer now turned public affairs. We both went to Baylor and commissioned on the same day - heeeeey Sic'em Bears!