Meet your commander: 23rd Mission Support Group

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Thomas Johns
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

How well do you know your leaders? Many Airmen may know their commander’s name, but do they know who their commanders truly are?

Airmen must keep track of a variety of requirements and studying their leader sometimes isn’t on the top of the to-do list. So, the Flying Tiger’s Public Affairs team sat down with each group commander to learn about their history, beliefs and life beyond their career in the U.S. Air Force.

After being in command for just more than a year, PA talked with Col. Michael Gallagher, 23rd Mission Support Group commander, to learn about his career history, leadership philosophy and what makes him more than just an official photo and biography.

1Q: How has your past military experience shaped how you lead here as the MSG commander? 

1A:  Over the course of my career, I have been unbelievably fortunate to work for, and to also witness, many senior officers as they navigated various challenging leadership situations. In doing so, I was able to watch the way they carried themselves and how they fostered relationships that helped them manage those challenging situations. Based on that learning experience, I have been able to cultivate and leverage my own relationships (at many levels) along the way. In doing so, this has enabled me to lead at a much more personal level and to make decisions for a group of Airmen that I trusted and who trusted me.  Coming into command of the MSG, I had a ton to learn, and leaning on my teammates and subordinates was going to be key to any success we were all going to have. Positive working relationships and trust, I believe, have been hallmarks of my time here, and hopefully have enabled us all to work toward a successful end state.

2Q: Since you’ve been at Moody before, do you think that your time here helped impact the way you lead?

2A: I’ve actually been stationed here a number of times, so I’ve been fortunate enough to be well immersed in the multiple mission sets and units that comprise the base. Additionally, something I’ve taken from my repeated “landings” at Moody AFB is the importance of the community that we serve. The unique relationship we have with our community partners here in Valdosta has helped me see just how important those connections can be, especially when we’re all focused on taking care of Moody’s Airmen. As the commander of the MSG, my role balances both on- and off-base responsibilities, and so having the ability to communicate, connect and counsel with local leaders has been crucial to addressing a lot of different issues facing the installation, our Team Moody partners, and our Airmen and their families. 

3Q: What do you think you have brought to the mission?

3A: As the MSG commander, I think I’ve brought a new perspective to a certain degree. As most folks know, my two previous assignments here were with the Rescue Group. My different background has forced me to ask a lot of questions and has also challenged some of the previous ways of “doing business” within my staff and across the group. In doing so, I think we’ve been able to improve some of what has worked in the past while also tightening up and refining some other areas that needed some extra attention and that might have been missed previously. And, of course, I’ve been learning a ton about the support mission along the way! In the end, there’s a ton of positive energy across the MSG; my goal has always been to have a bias toward action and to harness that positivity for the broader good of the group, as the entire wing depends on the MSG for the robust support and coordination it provides.  

4Q: What would you like to see accomplished for your group’s mission while you’re here?

4A: When I first took command of the MSG, my immediate goal was to figure out exactly how the group operated; it was a “new” battlespace for me, and I had a ton to catch up on. I truly had to immerse myself in the issues and opportunities of all six of the MSG’s units while at the same time building a strong staff and support team to help me manage all the taskings and requirements that came with running this group of over 1,400 military, civilian and contractor personnel. Amazingly, my time in the group has already passed the halfway mark; so, my biggest goal moving forward is ensuring we can create smooth, repeatable and understood processes, and that will enable the entire MSG to execute its mission, lead its people, manage its resources and improve its units to the best of its ability … while supporting the many missions that comprise the 23rd Wing and the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing. The next six-nine months are going to be a busy place for the MSG … so we need to be ready. 

5Q: What advice would you give Airmen who are currently stationed at Moody for their future career/s?

5A: I think that being stationed at Moody AFB is an incredible opportunity that not everyone gets the chance to experience. This is an extremely busy and relevant base in terms of warfighting capacity and capability. The ability of any Airman to come here, to hit the ground running and to begin contributing to the “fight” is something that many of our new Airmen will experience. Even better, they will immediately build character and develop skills within them that they can take to other bases and utilize over the rest of their careers. I know it can be challenging to be “thrown into the proverbial fire,” but in most cases, that experience can lead to learning quite a bit about the mission, but more importantly, about oneself.

6Q: What advice would you give yourself as a young Airman/Officer?

6A: I’m quite a bit different from the newly “minted” Second Lieutenant Gallagher.  I came into the AF as a super excited, super motivated young officer, but I really needed some candid feedback and “tempering” right off the bat. Once I received some of that feedback and took a step back and started to look at things with a clearer head, I started to evolve a great deal. One thing I’d certainly tell my younger self is to look at situations and opportunities with an eye toward fully understanding exactly what was required, and what I actions were needed to accomplish the mission. By better understanding the opportunities and impacts of any of the decisions I was about to make, I could better position myself to make the right one. Additionally, very few decisions need to be made in a vacuum. We shouldn’t be afraid to ask someone else their opinion, or to ask them for their insight. Many hands make for light work … but, a second opinion can also be a lifesaver.

7Q: What do you do outside of work? What are your hobbies?

7A: I’ll be honest … I’m not really a person with a bunch of hobbies. It’s not that I don’t think that they’re important … I just never took on some of them (like hunting or fishing). My big hobbies are pretty simple ones: working out, doing yard work, reading, spending time with my family and following sports. I’m a pretty busy guy most days, so I try to merge them together as best I can. I try to listen to an audiobook or podcast almost all the time, if I can, especially if it’s out on a long run or cutting the grass. It’s an easy way for me to challenge my thinking while also keeping up with everything that is going on in the world. Beyond that, my family and I are all big sports fans, so in any down time I always like to watch a lot of our favorite sports, especially the Philadelphia Phillies!