Lt. Gen. Tod D. Wolters is the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander.
He has served Airmen for more than 31-years as a command pilot with more than 4,950 hours in the F-15C, F-22, OV-10, T-38 and the A-10 aircraft, and has commanded at the unit, squadron, group, wing, numbered Air Force and joint-levels. His direction to Airmen include staying aware of issues impacting the Air Force, focusing on training, trust and teamwork and working hard to complete the mission.
Question: With budgetary and personnel challenges, what advice do you have for Airmen, civilians and contractors under your command?
Wolters: Our military has faced uncertain and difficult times over the past year. To meet those challenges we need to stay aware of the issues impacting our Air Force and think ahead about how to adapt when change is required. We’re the best Air Force in the world because our people are resilient. When a challenge presents itself, we work toward the best possible solution and move forward. Our senior leader’s use this approach when recommending a course of action to the Secretary of Defense, and it’s the same approach we, as Airmen, need to apply to the challenges we face in our daily mission.
Question: What should your Airmen know about you, your leadership style and the expectation you have for others under your command?
Wolters: Our Airmen should know that I am honored to serve with them and that I will do everything in my power to support this team. I have three focus areas that I believe lead to success; trust, training and teamwork. Trust is necessary and leads to the candid exchanges and transparency we need in the military…it’s about having faith in the person next to you to do the right thing. Training keeps our skills sharp and forces ready to answer our nation’s call, and teamwork means having the “we” versus “me” attitude it takes to accomplish the mission.
Question: You completed two 365-day tours in Afghanistan. What advice would you pass on to your Airmen when they are presented with an opportunity to deploy into a combat zone?
Wolters: My advice to deploying Airmen goes back to training, trust and teamwork. We need to train our best at home to be our best in a combat zone … this gives us the opportunity to make mistakes, and fix them, before we deploy. Next, we need to foster trust and support within the team. Without trust, distractions and doubt get in the way of accomplishing the mission. Finally, nobody can go it alone. Accomplishing the mission takes a lot of coordination and involves a lot of moving parts. Teamwork is necessary to get the job done safely and effectively.
Question: What is your vision for 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)?
Wolters: It’s plain and simple. Hard work is what we do. In our 12th Air Force role, that means working to support our subordinate units as they prepare for global operations. There are thousands of Airmen from 12th Air Force deployed around the world today, and we’ve got to make sure they’re given the training and resources to be successful when they go downrange.
In our Air Forces Southern role, it means applying Airmen and their skills to U.S. Southern Command’s focus areas of countering transnational organized crime, the care and custody of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, working with partner nations to build their security capacity, and planning for contingencies across the region. Both of our roles carry awesome responsibilities. I’m excited to take on those responsibilities and be part of this team … and I look forward to accomplishing the mission with the Airmen of 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern).