Meet your new leadership: Lt. Col. Russell Voce, 39th MSG commander

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 the Air Force because I needed to pay for college and an AFROTC scholarship provided that opportunity. A sense of being part of something bigger than what one would find in the corporate world has kept me in. Being part of a team, pride in professionalism, discipline, patriotism and honor are all factors in being part of something bigger.

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

A: Accepting a guidon is my answer, hands down. It comes with a lot of risk and sacrifice, but the offsetting reward is that in no other position have I had a greater ability to serve Airmen.

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: My first supervisor was Capt. Greg Burch. He was a prior enlisted officer who had more experience than other captains. He taught me the core values before they were our core values.

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: Several, but only one I will share. When I was a captain I put in my paperwork to separate from the Air Force. A Senior Airman in my flight found out and followed me to lunch one day and invited himself to eat lunch with me. He was the one who talked me into withdrawing my paperwork, whereas Colonels at the time had not been able to talk me into pulling my paperwork. The lesson learned is to never confuse the rank of an individual with the value of an individual. Rank matters and should always be respected, but the answer may not always be with the highest rank.

Q: What is your personal mission statement?

A: Serve with honor, or not at all.

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

A: Our core values; and I don't say that because someone thinks I'm supposed to. Integrity is essential to trust between supervisor and subordinate. Service before self represents the sacrifices service to our country requires. Excellence in all we do represents the unique place service members hold in society. We, collectively, are given responsibility to great lethality...we have to be held to higher standards. At the foundational level, I expect our Airmen to adhere to our values and to meet or exceed standards, and to demonstrate they have the discipline that warrants the special trust our fellow citizens place in us.

Q: What is your strategic vision for your organization?

A: To fulfill the vision of the 39th Air Base Wing commander.

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

A: To enjoy performing my duties on the majority of days, to ensure those under my command can do the same, and to leave Incirlik AB better than I found it.

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

A: I expect them to be self-disciplined and to understand the standards set for them because doing so will enable them to succeed. I expect them to learn from mistakes and not repeat the same mistakes over and over because if they can't, then to be quite honest, they will not be part of the solution. I expect them to remember that serving in the Air Force is an opportunity which has many rewards that can offset the sacrifices because the people who forget often lose the opportunity. I expect them to remember they serve in the greatest Air Force in the world because I want them to proud of what they do.

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

A: A couple of things... 

First, the mission is the priority and we will get the mission done. Leadership is the art of getting the mission done without crushing the people.

The 39th Mission Support Group is in the customer service business to a large degree, so I expect my squadrons to provide the level of customer service they themselves would expect to receive. People shouldn't come to the 39th MSG for assistance because we are the only game in town, they should come to us because they want to and they know they will get the assistance they need.

I expect all my squadrons to have an environment that promotes a team, a sense of family, civility, and a place people want to work. I fully realize this is easily said and hard to do, but that doesn't mean we can't try or shouldn't expect it.

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

A: I'm extremely proud and honored to have the opportunity to serve the men and women of the 39th MSG and all of the great people we support.

My family and I are enjoying the great sense of community here and we are all overjoyed we made the decision to come as a family. Incirlik AB is a great place and I look forward to doing my part to make it better.