Col. Dustin Richards: Q&A with new 88th Air Base Wing commander

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jack Gardner
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Col. Dustin Richards took command of the 88th Air Base Wing and installation April 9.

Richards, a career civil engineer, arrives at Wright-Patterson AFB from Air Force headquarters in Washington, where he was senior military assistant in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Energy, Installations and Environment.

This marks his second assignment at WPAFB. He was a student at the Air Force Institute of Technology from 2003 to 2005. 

The command’s new leader sat down with Skywrighter on May 8 to cover a myriad of topics, including his priorities, philosophy and experience.

What are your impressions of WPAFB, the wing and people so far?

I’ve been very impressed with the pride and professionalism from everyone I have encountered. The hard work everyone puts in has really been noticeable to me. Many of our people who are at Wright-Patterson have been working here for several years, and seeing that pride and professionalism in their work is something I appreciate.

Can you tell us a little about your command philosophy and how you approach being a leader?

My command philosophy is it’s never about me. It isn’t about the person in the seat, it’s about the responsibility of command. It’s about making sure that we take care of our people at all levels. No matter if it’s people who have been around the block and been here for a while, or the Airmen who have just arrived at the base, we want them to have the resources, training and professional development they need.  

What are your priorities and what do you hope to accomplish the next two years?

It starts with readiness! It’s getting our uniformed Airmen ready and trained to be able to deploy to do the missions that will be required of them. It is also about readiness within the installation, readiness to be able to support all of the entities on it as they focus on the great power competition. We have to be prepared to change how we have done things with our techniques, tactics and procedures.

What do you like to do when not in uniform? Any hobbies or interests?

First thing is being a father and a husband – those come first. I like to play and watch sports, golf, run, fitness, watch my daughters’ events, traveling with the family, movies, music. Anything we do together represents a great experience.

I also enjoy reading and listening to podcasts – not only for entertainment, but also for learning and self-improvement. I enjoy “The Next Big Idea podcast”, which offers weekly summaries of new and classic books on a variety of self-improvement topics.

What message do you have for the Airmen, civilian personnel and family members of the 88th Air Base Wing?

If you are a part of the 88th Air Base Wing, what you need to know is the support we provide is absolutely critical to our mission partners to ensure the installation and the nation’s success. If you are one of our many mission partners, then you need to know we are here for you and to support you and provide for your needs.

As the Air Force is reoptimizing for the great power competition, we all have a role and part to play. I want everyone to look in the mirror and reflect on what that role is going to be. There may be a lot of change coming; being able to adapt to the change is critical.

Is there anything you’d like to add about this new chapter for you and your family at Wright-Patt?

I don’t want the communication line to be one way. We are going through avenues to get the word out, but I always want to hear from members of the installation, no matter if they are a part of the wing or not. I want to hear about their quality of life, service (and) facilities, whatever their challenges are, so that we can do our best to improve them.