Meet your new leadership: Maj. Daniel Nigolian, 39th LRS commander

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Caleb Pierce
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
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?

My father was active duty Air Force and I liked the lifestyle I grew up with. Traveling, education, on the job training and leadership opportunities always appealed to me. To be honest, I never really considered any course of actions outside of the military, although I tried to go Coast Guard at first.

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

I wrote the package that won Headquarters Air Force Supply senior noncommissioned officer of the year, and he deserved it, and made E-9 shortly after! That kind of stuff doesn't go on your officer performance report, but is one of the most important things we do as officers.

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?

Col. (Ret.) Stuart Haire. He was the 728 Air Mobility Squadron commander when I was 2nd Lt. Nigolian stationed at Incirlik AB. He was genuine in everything he did. He hugged people, cried sometimes, shared successes and failures. So, I'm not much of a hugger, but no one questioned his motives. He just cared about his Airmen and you worked harder because you wanted to make him proud.

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?

When I found out I lost my rated slot coming out of ROTC. I had applied to stay in college and earn a second degree. If approved, I would have kept my rated slot, however the Air Force did not respond to my package for four months before denying it (September 11th happened). As a result, I commissioned late...Oct. 1, beginning of the fiscal year. Had I commissioned one day earlier, I would have kept my rated slot. Since there wasn't a Pilot/Navigator board in October, there was no chance of getting it again. I commissioned as a transportation officer...10 minutes later, I was a logistics readiness officer.
I've been offered rated slots several times since my commissioning and I've turned them all down. I decided I want to lead, and I don't need wings to do that. Often, the grass appears greener on the other side, but being a line officer has its privileges. A much smaller percentage of rated officers actually see command. I'm a squadron commander after 13 years! You'll never see me complain that I'm leading instead of flying!

Q: What is your personal mission statement?

Get out of your comfort zone!

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

I am a Christian; if it's in the Bible, it's important to me and I try to follow it. As for my Airmen, I expect nothing less than the core values! They were good enough for my old man, me, and they've not expired. If they can't do that, there's no love loss; the military isn't for everyone, and I'll do what I can to set them up for success on the outside.

Q: What is your strategic vision for your organization?

A: I don't have a strategic vision for a short tour assignment...just a vision. I just went to the first day of Incirlik 101 and I like what Col. Craig Wills, 39th Air Base Wing commander, had, with a couple modifications to make it my own:
"To serve in the greatest squadron, doing the greatest job, having the greatest time of your life, while fulfilling a purpose greater than yourself!"
I like this because it puts the responsibility on leadership and the individual, and forces us to live in the "now", not at "my last/next base". I've never had a bad job/assignment, but they were largely what my wife and I made of them. Each of my Airmen have the "opportunity" to make this the best assignment ever, but they're not entitled to it, they've got to work for it!

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

A: I want to give my squadron a tangible, difficult yet attainable goal. Then I want to help them reach it and just be there when they're swelling with pride! The five meter target is a successful noncombatant evacuation operation exercise in September. The 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron doesn't own that process, but our middle initial is "readiness", and sets the tone for the entire wing so we need to have our ducks in a row. The Unit Effectiveness Inspection is another milestone a little farther out. I want my folks to self identify and write-up! No unit is perfect, and we should be transparent about it. This is the intent of the new system, ensuring wings have the ability to inspect themselves and I think if we can prove that we'll be successful. Finally, I want to win the daedalian! This would honor the efforts of the last commander and validate all the hard work of my Airmen, which they richly deserve.

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

They need to lead by example because no one respects leaders who don't follow their own rules. My neighbor told me Col. and Mrs. Wills were picking up trash from one of my trash cans that blew over while they were out walking. My respect for him doubled that instant.

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

A: Our priorities are laid out quite conveniently. While surety may not be where most of our efforts are leveraged, we do have a part in that and I need each of my Airmen to know what that is. Readiness on the other hand is where we lead the base, so the majority of our efforts lie there. My expectations are that my Airmen find the right balance so that they can meet/exceed all wing priorities in whatever capacity we can.

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

When we're rolling in money and manpower, no one's voice for efficiency is heard, it's just easier to keep the status-quo. The great thing about being fiscally constrained is that my Airmen are empowered with the responsibility for innovation just like the four star! And their ideas are being heard!