552nd ACW command chief has simple leadership style – do what works

  • Published
  • By Darren D. Heusel
  • Tinker Public Affairs
The new command chief master sergeant to the 552nd Air Control Wing has a pretty simple style when it comes to leadership and, that is, to simply do what works.

"That is to say, I want to make sure that communication, or the flow of information, is available from the top (of the chain of command) on down," said 552nd ACW Command Chief Master Sgt. Avery Woolridge, who celebrated his 27th year in the Air Force on Dec. 17.

Since joining the Air Force, the chief said he hasn't regretted a single day.

"I've really enjoyed it," he said. "I've done a lot in my 27 years, was on the 7th Air Force staff, was an instructor, was on (Major Command) inspection teams...I feel all that experience qualifies me to help lead this wing."

Because of his vast experience, people have approached him to ask his opinion on things in the short time he's been here.

"I'm excited about the new mission and doing what I can to help (the Airmen) succeed," said Chief Woolridge, who advises the commander on the health, welfare, morale, mission effectiveness and proper utilization of more than 4,000 men and women responsible for Air Combat Command's fleet of E-3 "Sentry" Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft and ground-based Control and Reporting Centers supporting combatant commanders worldwide.

"This is probably going to be my last ride," added the chief, who also is the commander's primary adviser on all enlisted issues. "It's kind of cool to come full circle, after starting out in (Tactical Air Command) and likely ending up in an operational wing."
The chief said the primary difference between the Airmen he enlisted with and the Airmen of today is that the Air Force is getting "a higher caliber" Airman today.

"They are extremely smart and tech savvy," he said. "But, they also want to be lead and they want to be challenged so that they can show just how good they really are."

His goal, he said, is the same as it was in his previous assignment -- "to grow enlisted leaders up and down the chain of command, especially now with the new force shaping initiatives we're dealing with."

"We're going to need everyone pulling their own weight because there's going to be less people and more missions," the chief added. "I want to make sure they can successfully lead in this type of environment. I want to make sure they are mentally, physically and professionally ready to lead."

Since coming to the 552nd ACW in October of last year, Chief Woolridge said he's been very impressed with the Airmen he's encountered.

"We have a unique mission here," he said. "There's not another wing leaders can go to and find this level of expertise. Our wing has done what we've needed to meet the mission, which is why we recently received an 'Excellent' rating on our (Combined Unit Inspection)."

The chief said he's also been able to witness all three of the groups within the wing in action and has been "very impressed with what I've seen."

"They are putting forth a herculean effort and that bodes well for the future of this wing and this nation," he said.

One of the best things the chief has enjoyed since arriving here is the host-tenant relationship he has with 72nd Air Base Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Brian Lavoie.
"All the chiefs on base want what's best for Team Tinker and I think that's going to be needed to take us through sequestration, force shaping and whatever else they want to throw at us in the future," he said.

Chief Woolridge's focus is on taking care of the Airmen, so they can take care of the mission of the Air Force's only integrated Air Battle Management Wing.

He entered the Air Force is 1986 and began his career as an Aircraft Navigation Systems technician. He has held a variety of management and leadership positions including lead production superintendent, field training detachment flight chief and superintendent of command logistics assessments.