LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — For the first time, we're hearing from the man who's taking over as commander of the 57th Wing at Nellis Air Force Base.
Brig. Gen. Michael Drowley has a tall enough task, having to lead thousands of men and women who work at Nellis. It's even harder to do that job in the midst of a pandemic. Drowley says he knows it won't be easy, but he's been training for this moment his whole life.
"This is the crown jewel of the air force. I’m the recipient of great leadership, great coaching, great mentorship, and a supportive family. And that’s really the way my family and I look at this is, how can we pay it back now that we've received that," said Gen. Drowley.
He's taking over for Brig. Gen. Robert Novotny, who recently retired after becoming pretty popular during his two years at Nellis. But, Drowley says he doesn't plan to make drastic changes.
"Gen. Novotny really set a great flight path for the wing in his two years in command here. So, the vector that we were on, we’re looking to maintain that or just add additional thrust to it to continue to take the wing to new levels of excellence and new heights. No real immediate changes to the way that we do business, it’s more of a re-emphasis. So, when you look at our national strategic environment with the great power competition, that really demands from us high-end readiness. When we look at things that we do, whether it’s red flag, green flag, the United States Air Force weapons school, it is ensuring these prepare our airmen for that strategic environment," said Gen. Drowley.
He will have his hands full, balancing how to get peak performance from his pilots, while keeping the airmen safe from contracting COVID-19.
"The team has really found innovative ways to come together to make sure that we can brief, debrief, execute our missions, and still do good things like physical distancing, making sure that we’re wearing our masks, and mitigate the virus wherever we can. Now, we are in the phase of, 'How can we continue doing the mission, but do it smartly and ensuring that we’re not accepting as much risk doing that,'" said Gen. Drowley.
This is Drowley's fourth time being stationed at Nellis, so he's no stranger to Las Vegas. Now, he's hoping to give back to the city and country that's already given him so much.
"Las Vegas is a great community and they’re very accepting of the military and making sure that we get what we need. As an airman, we couldn’t do the mission that we do without Las Vegas’ support. And so, that’s extremely critical on the mission side of the house. I’m completely humbled. I look at it as, I owe Nellis and Las Vegas far more than I can possibly give and that’s why, when I come into work every day, it’s to try and pay that back in some fashion," said Gen. Drowley.
The new Brigadier General is already feeling at home in Las Vegas. His three kids attend school and his wife is an orthodontist in the area.
Drowley says one of his top priorities is making sure his airmen feel as welcome in Las Vegas as he and his family have.