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Meet 521 AMOW Commander Col. Bradley L. Spears

Colonel Bradley L. Spears

Col. Bradley L. Spears is the Wing Commander, 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (U.S. Air Force Photo by 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- The 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing welcomed Col Bradley L. Spears as the wing’s new commander June 28. Spears has dedicated his career to the US Air Force for 24 years and most recently served as vice commander of the 521st AMOW under Col Thomas M. Cooper. Col Spears is a command pilot with more than 3,100 flying hours and more than 300 hours in combat. He has flown C-21A, C-130E, MC-130E, and TG-10 aircraft. He has been stationed in Germany three times and visited many of the American cemeteries in France, Belgium and Luxembourg. He said visiting the cemeteries is awe inspiring to consider the sacrifice of those who have gone before and to think about what needs to be done to carry on their legacy. Col. Spears answered the following questions:

What advice would you give 1994, 2nd Lieutenant Bradley Spears?

It is the same advice I have tried to follow my whole career which is to pursue excellence in every task that you are given, no matter how seemingly unimportant it is at the time. When I threw my hat in the air at the academy in 1994, I had a quote in there from Coach Vince Lombardi that said, “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, no matter their chosen field.” I have tried to keep that in mind my entire career.

What stands out from early in your career as a defining moment?

Going back 24 years, I think one of the things that stands out is being given the keys to a multimillion dollar jet and given the responsibility to fly senior officers and U.S. government representatives around Europe and Africa on my own without a lot of reach back to a command and control facility. How motivating it was to have the responsibility and the authority and to be doing that autonomously. If I think about what it means today, it’s a good reminder that our Airmen, when they are given autonomy, are going to deliver excellence for us every single time.

What are you looking forward to being the new 521 AMOW commander?

There is a very unique opportunity here that we don’t do much in the Air Force, to fly up in the same organization (where) we have been the vice commander for two years and be able to take command. I am excited to be able to continue many of the initiatives we’ve started over the last two years. The ability to focus on Airmen development, getting ready for the next conflict, and garnering the resources we need to make our Airmen successful in making the global mobility mission move.

What is the most important leadership quality Airmen in the 521 AMOW should work hard to develop?

Resiliency – the ability to bounce back from failure and overcome obstacles in both our personal and professional lives is critical to our success both as an individual and as a team. When we are accentuating the positives we are turning setbacks and challenges into opportunities. I have had a number of commanders, supervisors and peers who have had my interest in mind in developing me along the way. They all pushed me into opportunities that put me outside my comfort zone but afforded me the opportunity to learn a new skill or broaden my perspective. Another key point is to challenge the view of self- we have to be ok with being uncomfortable because if you are comfortable you are probably not growing.

How do you feel the breadth of your experience prepared you to take command?

The Air Force does a really good job developing leaders. If I look back at all the training and all the experiences I have been afforded, especially the ones where I have had supervisors or commanders push me forward, that’s kind of given me the foundation for this command. I have tried to take every single opportunity to make myself better, just like I am asking my Airmen to do, so that when this opportunity presented itself that I have that to lean on. Despite all of that, I don’t have all the answers so I will be leaning heavily on the airmen and the folks in this wing who are the experts to collaborate with me and help us achieve the vision we’ve set for the 521 AMOW.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what two things would you like to have with you and why?

One, a satellite phone and two, a calling card or number for the closest Air Mobility Command C2 (command and control) facility because I know with those two things, I will get whatever I need no matter where I am stranded on the globe.