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NEWS | Sept. 5, 2023

Meet your commander: Col. Anthony L. Smith

By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Monica Roybal

Col. Anthony L. Smith officially took the reigns as the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst commander and the 87th Air Base Wing commander earlier this year on June 20.

Prior to JB MDL, Smith served as the Director for Financial Management and Comptroller, Headquarters Air Mobility Command, where he was the principal financial advisor to the AMC commander.

Smith commissioned in May 1997 and brings his 26 years of knowledge and experience to the Defense Department’s only tri-service joint base and its 88 mission partners. He explained his initial approach to JB MDL’s unique structure during his first two months at the helm.

“I purposefully haven’t changed a lot because I’m focused on observing what the installation does, the mission-sets it supports, who are the key stakeholders and how well do we support those joint partners and mission partners,” Smith said. “Collaboration with the joint base deputies and the 87th Air Base Wing leadership team is vital to assessing and improving JB MDL. Their functional expertise will help us obtain the key deliverables needed to get us where we want to be in the future.”

One aspect that will help propel JB MDL’s already-thriving joint service environment is team work. Smith said he aims to further cultivate a culture where Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen support and encourage one another both professionally and personally.

“Understanding what we each bring to the mission is the foundation of good team work,” he said. “When you listen to the Air Force’s senior leaders and what they value, (Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall’s) ‘One team, one fight’ and JB MDL’s ‘Win as one’ motto, you realize those adages rely on a unified, focused effort that will allow us to celebrate together as one winning force.”

Smith said he considers leadership a privilege and an honor at any level. He explained that empowering JB MDL members to take on leadership roles to develop themselves and influence others will lead to collective joint mission success. He explained his three pillars for service members to model their leadership style.

“My leadership philosophy has crystalized into, ‘Be a good human, be a good Airman and be a good Wingman.’ It may sound fairly simple, but we complicate it a lot,” Smith said. “I’ve realized that is what I’ve been focused on throughout my career and it’s foundational to who I am. I think if you look at those three principles, they can be applied in numerous positions whether as a supervisor, a subordinate or a teammate.”

Taking on the dual-hatted JB MDL commanding position is already uncommon compared to traditional U.S. Air Force air base wing commanders, but for Smith and his family, there is an added facet that runs deep within their family’s roots.

“One of the things that really excites me about being stationed at JB MDL is having a full circle moment for me and my family,” Smith explained. “My wife was born right here at Fort Dix. Her family was stationed here when her father was serving in the Army. This assignment is meaningful in many different aspects for me and I’m looking forward to dedicating myself to JB MDL’s service members and our mission.”