JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska –Air Force Lt. Gen. Stephen Hoog, Commander of Alaskan Command, Eleventh Air Force, Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command Region and Joint Task Force Alaska, is a man who wears many hats.
In this capacity, he commands and more than 21,000 active-duty, Guard and Reserve personnel spanning Alaska, Hawaii and Guam. Hoog moves on to new challenges today, as he relinquishes command and moves to a new assignment at the Pentagon.
As the senior military officer in Alaska responsible for integration of all military activities in the Alaska theater of operations, Hoog integrated active-duty, Guard and Reserve members of all services in Alaska during a time of budget cuts and sequestration.
“It’s been a very dynamic year and a half,” Hoog said. “Sequestration has been coloring everything for the last five to six months. I think the biggest thing that I have been able to work with the staff here is to get more cooperation or at least interface between the various commands and folks in Alaska.”
As a result of working relationships between sister services and combining their strengths and recourses, Hoog provided an integrated way forward to give options for the future in a time of dwindling budgets.
“We are working with each other instead of for each other,” Hoog said. “Depending on what hat you put on, whether it is a rescue mission, working with the Coast Guard on the grounded oil platform, a downed helicopter, or an air drop with Air Force planes carrying Army paratroopers. Everything is about working together up here in Alaska. I think we have continued to make progress on that.”
All four services have different organized training and equipped commands but the thing they have in common is that they are all up here in Alaska, Hoog said.
Hoog described his leadership style as letting his people do the right thing.
“Give them a little nudge here and there,” Hoog said. “More times than not, they know how to make it better. You’ve just got to give them the time and the resources to make it happen. They are incredible.”
In different areas of Alaska temperatures can reach below zero degrees in the winter, but the severe environment only strengthens the partnership of Alaskans, Hoog said.
“If you can operate at negative 50 degrees you can operate anywhere,” Hoog said. “There is closeness up here by necessity. The discipline and the team work it takes to operate in an arctic environment or stressful environment like this brings people closer by definition. The people up here are professional, they get the job done, and it is a pleasure to work with them.”
As Hoog leaves his many hats behind and goes to his next assignment, he recalled advice he received as an aspiring
“The biggest piece of advice is one that was given to me a long time ago,” Hoog said. “It was ‘Bloom where you are planted.’ Some folks figure it is the next assignment, the next job; it’ll be the next thing that allows you to really make a difference. What happens is you make a difference each and every day. If you are a young airman learning air traffic control or security forces, this is where you are going to learn your skills, influence your peers and this is where you will learn your leadership styles.
“You take each assignment and do the best you can with it. That is what it is all about. Doing the best you can each and every day. Do what you can with what you have each and every day and you will be successful.”
Hoog will move on to become the assistant vice chief of staff and director, Air Staff at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.