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FSS commander rises to challenge, pushes to make base support better

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Summer block parties, holiday events for children and trips for Airmen and their families are things that may come to mind when people think of the Force Support Squadron, but they’re responsible for much more.

As the 23rd FSS commander, Maj. Brandon Wengert is responsible for Moody’s manpower, the engine that develops Airman professionally, and the entertainment that keeps them sane when they’re off-duty.

It may sound simple, but effectively delivering events that support the base commander’s priorities can be daunting.

“The year I took command, one out of every three FSS commanders in the Air Force was fired,” Wengert said. “I took command knowing my position got fired more than every other squadron commander combined. When I did my own analysis, I found they were hesitant to aggressively meet their boss’ priorities, so I came in with the mentality that I was going to be a cowboy and do whatever is the right thing, and I would takes responsibility for it.”

This attitude helped Wengert continuously push the envelope when it came to events and entertainment at Moody, including revamping Moody’s On-boarding process. On-boarding is how the base welcomes new Airmen and their families with an innovated approach that immerses them into Moody’s culture the day they are notified of the assignment.

“There is a tendency to do what’s easy,” Wengert said. “Inside the squadron, I was not well liked for the first year I worked here, because I wasn’t going to do what was easy. I’m not obsessed with winning or being the best; I am obsessed with doing the greatest thing possible, and I’m not willing to limit myself. I want to constantly improve everything and be better.”

During his two-year command, FSS has hosted events like trunk or treats, snow sledding in the air park, tree lighting ceremonies and parades, Moody Fest concerts, base pool quarter scramble, holiday cards along Mitchell Boulevard, new cabins at Grassy Pond, and a haunted trail to name a few.

“Major Wengert's creative spirit is the energy that has driven his leadership style over the last two years,” said Dawn Coleman, 23rd FSS deputy. “He challenged the squadron to dream. Major Wengert encouraged Airmen to share their ideas to improve FSS and the community.  Out of these conversations, ‘@Moody’ groups became a reality; Uber is now available in the local community; and base-wide events were jam-packed with fun and enthusiasm.

“The Moody Air Force Base community will be talking about Major Wengert's successes for years to come,” Coleman added.

In addition to pushing the FSS squadron to have significant events and proficient processes to make life at Moody easier, Wengert also pushed individuals in his squadron to become better leaders.

“I’m impressed with the amount of burden and responsibility we put on junior Airmen on day one,” Wengert said. “Many times and in many ways, the junior Airman is the expert. I say that because our chief of relocations, who controls permanent change of stations for the entire base is so junior; they’ve never [moved] themselves.

“I am ferocious and intense and non-compromising on my people because I know how big the responsibility that they’re growing into is,” Wengert added. “Being a company grade officer working for me is not fun, but I know the burden they will eventually step into and I have to ratchet up the intensity now so I can build them up to face that. I treat the quality of a hamburger at the club with the same tenacity you would treat the accuracy of an A-10 shot, because it is that important in my mind.”

While preparing the FSS team for the next great challenges they will face, Wengert ensures they understand why, even when he’s giving them commands.

“The answer is never ‘because I said so,’” Wengert said. “We deliver a better product when our why is to take care of the Airmen and families [of one] of the most deployed bases in Air Combat Command, versus, ‘this Friday I need you to show up and work hard.’ Folks are engaged when they understand the why behind it. We’re about to push 1,000 Airmen out the door who won’t see their kids for six months; we owe it to them to deliver something unprecedented.”