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Air Force leadership role brings challenge and opportunity

Group Captain Susie Barns has taken up the key Air Force role of Logistics Commander (Air), based at Whenuapai. She took over from Group Captain Colin Marshall, who has been posted to Canberra.

07 December, 2021

Her new role holds responsibility for all the services required to sustain Air Force fleets throughout their operational lives, including all logistics and intermediate/depot level maintenance requirements at the three Air Force bases, with about 630 people under her command.

Group Captain Barns (Ngati Porou), originally from Tokomaru Bay, has held a wide range of appointments at home and overseas in her 28-year career.

“It’s a career that has always kept me challenged, excited, engaged and motivated. There have been many highlights, such as the world-class training and educational opportunities, deploying on operations, sport, and being part of an organisation that genuinely supports work/family balance,” she said.

Most recently she has served as Director Air Force Safety and Health, and before that as Chief of Staff in the Whenuapai base headquarters. In 2016 she was the first New Zealand Defence Force participant on the Global Women Breakthrough Leaders Programme.

Group Captain Barns said that she is conscious of taking the Logistics Command (Air) reins at an exciting time of new challenges and opportunities for the Air Force, notably the arrival of the first of the new P-8A Poseidon aircraft which will replace the current P-3K2 Orions in December next year.

“The transformational change associated with modern aircraft platforms is unprecedented. The future Air Force logistics workforce will be driven by information, supported by modern technology, integrated with commercial partners and networked with international allies,” she said.

“As such, my focus for the next few years will be to lead the logistics workforce through this change, in a manner that is empowering, encourages curiosity and leverages off an innovative and agile approach to change. 

“The future of the Air Force and indeed the New Zealand Defence Force is bright. The path towards this bright future is one I feel privileged to be on, with the broader Air Force logistics team in support,” she said.