The Q&A: 14 Wing Greenwood Commander Colonel Mike Adamson

The Q&A:
14 Wing Greenwood Commander Colonel Mike Adamson


Colonel Mike Adamson assumed command of 14 Wing Greenwood on July 20, 2017. The Grapevine recently had the chance to ask Colonel Adamson how it’s going. Here’s our Q&A:


The Grapevine (GV): You and your family have called the Annapolis Valley home before, and you’ve now returned as wing commander — what about the Annapolis Valley were you most looking forward to upon your return?

Colonel Adamson: Although our roots are in Ottawa, my family and I have called the Annapolis Valley home for 14 of the last 22 years.  This is our fourth posting to the area and, each time we return, we are amazed at just how easy it is for us to slide back into life here. Knowing that, I think we were most looking forward to an easy move; a return to a community we know and love.


GV: How has the transition back to the area been?

Colonel Adamson: The transition, as always, has been easy and comfortable. So many of the folks I work with across the base, and, indeed, within the community, are friends and co-workers from our previous tours here.  Whenever I go to a function, visit a unit on base, or attend a meeting, I see familiar faces. For us, the transition to life in Greenwood is definitely more of a reunion than a new experience.


GV: A career in the military can mean seeing various parts of the country. How does CFB Greenwood compare to other places you’ve been posted?

Colonel Adamson: Over the course of my military career, and as a military brat myself, I have lived across Canada and around the world. Each location has its own benefits, but Greenwood has the greatest sense of military community. It is unique in that a great deal of the base personnel work together, and then call each other neighbours when we get home at the end of the day. That creates a sense of family and a great support network. There is comfort and confidence in knowing that if a loved one is deployed, your neighbours understand the challenges themselves and are there to help.


GV: What are you hoping to add to CFB Greenwood during your experience as wing commander?

Colonel Adamson: This wing has been extremely busy over the last few years, supporting local operations, search and rescue, and deployments to the Middle East. I am hoping we will get a chance to catch our breath for a little while and take care of some of the housekeeping issues that have piled up during that time. Our people are expected to undertake a number of different missions, and we need to go back and hone the skill sets we’ve not had a chance to work on over the last few years. We need to be prepared for whatever the government asks of us, and I would like to ensure we are at the top of our game and ready to go.


GV: How would you describe your leadership style?

Colonel Adamson: I would say I am consultative. Running an organization as large and as varied as 14 Wing requires me to work in areas that are new and unfamiliar. Whether dealing with flight operations, managing budgets, contracting for construction work, or working with local unions, the responsibilities are wide-ranging.  To that end, I rely a great deal on the advice and counsel of a lot of smart and competent people. I believe it is important to understand one’s own limitations, and to seek help from the experts, as many as possible, to aid in the decision-making process. I meet regularly with my staff to solicit opinions and guidance but, at the end of the day, the accountability is mine. I need to be comfortable with the decisions I have to make.


GV: You’ve been in the role for a few months now. What have been the highlights of your new role to date?

Colonel Adamson: The neat thing about this job is, in addition to the daily challenges of running the wing, you are asked to participate in some unique and interesting events by virtue of your position: meeting local community members, presenting medals and recognition to our own personnel, chatting with the families of deployed troops, or taking part in ceremonies to recognize the contributions of our veterans, young and old. I recently had a chance to meet some Second World War Lancaster bomber crew members as we commemorated their service with the signing of a plaque inside our own museum aircraft. The week prior, I was asked to take the opening kick-off for the Acadia Axemen’s first home game. These are the special things that make each week different, and will give me such great memories of my time here.


GV: What have been the challenges? How do they compare to the challenges of your other appointments?

Colonel Adamson: I think the biggest challenge of this job is the sheer span of effort required.  As I mentioned earlier, I rely a great deal on subject matter experts but, by the same token, I want to better understand the machinery of running a base this large with each passing day. In that is a desire to get out and meet as many of the base personnel as I can, and the wing chief warrant officer and I have tried to set aside time to get out and do that on a regular basis. The challenge of course is time, and this job is busy, the days and weeks go by far too quickly. Therein lies another challenge: to stop and smell the roses!  Every once in a while, I need to take a second to look around at my surroundings and appreciate just how lucky I am to have been afforded such an amazing opportunity.


GV: Your career with the Canadian Air Force has spanned almost 25 years — was it always your ambition? Do you have a family history of military service?

Colonel Adamson: I didn’t always think I would join the military but, when I finished university and I looked at the jobs and life and opportunities it had provided my family as I grew up, a life in the RCAF took on a great deal of appeal. My father retired after 30-plus years of service as a fighter pilot in the air force, and was a base commander himself in Lahr, Germany. I am extremely proud to have followed a similar career path myself, although in significantly different circumstances. The military I grew up with during the Cold War was a different organization, and I have been witness to huge changes in how the military is perceived by both the Government of Canada and by the Canadian people. I think we have a great deal of credibility and support across the country at the moment, and I am certainly very proud to put on the uniform.


GV: When you’re not busy with work, what are you up? Any favourite community events or local pastimes you’re interested in?

Colonel Adamson: I think it’s important to try and get away from the office once in a while, both physically and mentally. This job is 24/ 7, and you need to be able to escape and recharge your batteries! We enjoy the busy social life here on the base, exploring Nova Scotia, travelling, boating, and visiting friends and family. And I really enjoy playing piano: it’s my own way of losing myself in something, even if just for a few minutes each day.