New Command Team Takes Charge at the 51st Fighter Wing

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Thomas Sjoberg
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

On June 20th, 2023, U.S. Air Force Col. William McKibban took command of the 51st Fighter Wing, accompanied by his appointed Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Joshua Trundle. Together, they lead one of the Air Force's premier installations in the Indo-Pacific region.

Since its establishment in 1948, the 51 FW has seen 67 commanders take the helm, each playing a pivotal role in advancing the wing's capabilities and strengthening the U.S.-ROK alliance.

As McKibban and Trundle embark on this new journey, the 51 FW and Osan Air Base community eagerly anticipate the great strides they will make in maintaining our legacy of excellence and the enduring commitment to the defense of the Korean Peninsula and the Indo-Pacific region.

The Public Affairs office was able to speak with the new command team on their vision for the base and their priorities. Below is a Q&A from the interview.

Q: What are your top priorities and your vision as you take command?

MCKIBBAN: Our vision for the 51 FW is clear: defend, execute, sustain, and be ready to fight tonight. Our top priority is to ensure the wing remains ready to execute our mission at a moment's notice. We will invest in our people, providing them with the training and resources necessary to be the best in their respective fields. Additionally, we will continue to enhance interoperability with our regional partners, reinforcing our commitment to security and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

TRUNDLE: Our approach is simple yet unwavering: we will give 100% of ourselves, dedicating our efforts wholeheartedly to our Mustangs. Our commitment lies in making a lasting impact over the next two years, focusing on initiatives that will benefit the Wing and the Airmen we serve. Our dedication to the mission and the well-being of our personnel remains at the core of our vision for the 51st FW.

Q: What challenges do you foresee and how do you plan on addressing them?

MCKIBBAN: As we step into our roles, some key challenges lie ahead. One of our primary focuses will be modernizing our infrastructure to meet the demands of the future. Additionally, we will navigate the turnover challenges that come with a short tour at the 51st Fighter Wing, ensuring continuity in leadership and maintaining the highest standards of performance. Addressing these challenges head-on will be crucial to our success in achieving our mission objectives.

TRUNDLE: As Col. McKibban mentioned, one of the key challenges we're focused on is turnover. We aim to address this challenge by collaborating with Air Force Personnel Command to explore options that encourage our Airmen to extend their stay at Osan, fostering a sense of motivation to serve here a little longer. This is a wonderful place to work, and we are determined to convey this message to our Airmen, working together to make a positive impact over the next couple of years. Our shared commitment to the well-being and retention of our personnel will be instrumental in overcoming this challenge and achieving mission success.

Q: What traits do you value most in the workplace? Why?

MCKIBBAN: Above all else, professionalism is the trait I value most in the workplace. It encompasses customs and courtesies, but it extends far beyond that. Professionalism is about granting grace, enabling individuals to evolve into their best selves, and having the moral courage to confront challenges that require resolution.

In a professional environment, we can all flourish and collaborate to enhance both the mission and the workplace, positioning ourselves for future leadership opportunities within the Air Force. Emphasizing professionalism fosters a culture of respect, growth, and a shared commitment to continuous improvement, ultimately contributing to the success and readiness of our team.

TRUNDLE: Throughout my career, one trait that I've truly come to cherish is being surrounded by Airmen with a positive attitude. It's remarkable how this attitude radiates and influences various aspects of our work. Approaching challenges with optimism and giving our all to the mission is truly incredible. When we begin with a positive attitude, everything else falls into place naturally. It sets the tone for success, fosters teamwork, and fuels the determination needed to accomplish our tasks effectively. Embracing a positive outlook is a powerful catalyst for creating a supportive and thriving workplace environment.

Q: Why is our mission here important?

MCKIBBAN: Our mission here is of utmost importance because it involves supporting our allies and upholding international norms and standards that have had a profound impact on this peninsula and the region. Over the last 70 years, the ironclad status of our alliance has been crucial. The individuals who make this mission possible are undoubtedly our Airmen, who play a significant role in sustaining the deterrence effect we've had on the peninsula since the 1950s.

TRUNDLE: The backbone of our mission lies with the dedicated Airmen behind the scenes—turning wrenches, providing essential services, and ensuring the mission's success daily. Our primary focus remains resolute: maintaining a strong deterrence to keep the North Koreans on their side of the line. It's a profound responsibility, one we wholeheartedly embrace.

Q: What message do you want to share with the members of the 51st Fighter Wing?

MCKIBBAN: To the members of the 51st Fighter Wing, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude. Thank you for your unwavering dedication and for creating an inclusive and diverse community where service and life thrive. Your commitment to defending the freedom of millions does not go unnoticed, and I acknowledge the sacrifices you make daily. Know that your efforts are appreciated.

TRUNDLE: I want to emphasize that our mission is fast-paced, and we will all be busy. Despite that, I urge everyone to prioritize taking care of each other. Amidst the busy schedule, take time to explore the community, go on trips with ITT, and discover the wonders this vast peninsula holds. Carve out moments for yourself to recharge and appreciate the amazing opportunities that surround us. Your well-being is crucial, and I encourage you to embrace the richness of experiences available to you here.