New commander takes reins of 78th MSG

  • Published
  • By Kendahl Johnson
  • 78th ABW/PA
Colonel Patrick Higby recently took charge as commander of the 78th Mission Support Group, receiving the group's guidon at a change of command ceremony April 20.

Colonel Higby comes to Robins from Langley Air Force Base, Va., where he served as the Network Systems Division chief. He said although he enjoyed working at Headquarters Air Combat Command, he is blessed to be back at base level.

"We are certainly blessed and honored to be joining Team Robins. My last job was great and I worked on a lot of far-reaching programs, which have an impact across the whole Air Force, but for officers, I think we all long to be at base level or to be commanders at any level," he said. "I feel honored that General (Tom) Owen and Colonel (Theresa) Carter saw fit to hire me for this position and I hope I'll meet their expectations."

Colonel Carter, commander of the 78th Air Base Wing, said the wing is very fortunate to have Colonel Higby join the team.

"He's an incredible leader who has excelled in every assignment and led his units to multiple best in command or best in Air Force awards," Colonel Carter said. "He understands not only what it takes to support the warfighter in a deployed environment but also to support a very large and diverse set of customers at home station. We're thrilled to have Patrick and (his wife) Heather with us at Robins and look forward to working with them over the next two years."

Colonel Higby said one of his top priorities will be to support the wing commander and her vision and goal of fostering the culture of proud, passionate and professional Airmen.

He has three additional goals he will be working towards in his time here at Robins. First, he wants to make sure all Airmen, including active duty, Guard, reservists and civilians, understand we are striving for victory in a long war and that they understand their role in that undertaking.

"We will be working towards fostering a warrior ethos, which includes everything from physical fitness to combat training to family readiness to reintegration into the unit upon returning from deployment," Colonel Higby said. "We especially want team members who are required to deploy, and their families, to be ready for deployment when the time comes."

Next, Colonel Higby wants to put additional focus on the basics.

"In the MSG, we are all about customer service and taking care of our people...people first, mission always. Those two elements are the basic underpinnings that encompass all the other things. That's important to me," the colonel said.

The final area of focus for the colonel is supporting and leading Air Force transformation.

"We are faced with an ongoing Air Force transformation. We have an important role in supporting and leading that transformation which comes with cultural, organizational and doctrinal changes that probably make people uncomfortable," Colonel Higby said. "As a commander, I can help overcome some of the discomfort and clearly explain why we're doing some of the things we're doing and how that helps us prevail."

Colonel Higby said he hopes as commander, he can stay in touch with reality as he strives for these goals. He said he is about four echelons above reality and that there is a well-intentioned tendency for his staff to want to insulate him from that reality.

"As a colonel in the Air Force it's very easy to be consumed with 'my world and my vision,' but I think it's very important to keep a finger on the pulse of what's really going on where the rubber meets the road. And that's the young Airman or civilian who works on the day-to-day mission."

The colonel, who plans to emphasize the importance of family life during his time here, is joined on his journey to Robins by his wife, Heather, and two children, Hannah, 4, and Noah, 2.

"I consider myself a God-fearing family man and that's a high priority for me. With ongoing force reductions and mission tempo increasing, the temptation, or problem, is that we can all turn into workaholics. I need to set the example by striking a good balance between how much time and effort I spend on the job versus being a good role model to other families," the group commander said, adding that family is just one of the things that could get neglected when we end up working excessive hours on less important tasks.

Colonel Higby said he recognizes there are many great people in the mission support group and he wants to make sure the team continues on the right vector and performs to their fullest. "The overall goal is to focus on those things that are most important and get those things done right."