Command Chief Master Sergeants Forum
Moderated by CMSAF Rodney J. McKinley
CMSgt Anthony l. Bishop, CCM, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)
CMSgt David Pope, CCM, Air Combat Command (ACC)
CMSgt Joeseph E. Barron Jr., CCM, Air Mobility Command (AMC)
CMSgt Chris Redmon, CCM, Office of Special Investigations
CMSgt Dick Smith, CCM, Air National Guard (ANG)
CMSgt Michael P. Gilbert, CCM, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC)
Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition 2006
Sept. 25, 2006
Mr. Condon: Good afternoon again. My name is Pat Condon. I am privileged to be the Chairman of the Board of the Air Force Association and itís a very great pleasure to welcome you to this Command Chief Mater Sergeants Forum. We at the Air Force Association consider it a very distinct honor to include this forum as a part of the 2006 Air and Space Conference.
Before turning the microphone over to the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, I want to first publicly thank him and each of our Command Chiefs for supporting the Air Force Association and spreading the word about our association and the work we do in support of the United States Air Force and the Air Force family.
We planned a two-and-a-half day series of activities here, some of which will be pretty intense, but I certainly hope you have the opportunity to, in addition to participating in forums such as this, attend the technology exposition and do some networking with other air and space professionals.
Without further delay itís my very great pleasure to introduce to you the 15th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Chief Rodney McKinley.
CMSAF McKinley: Thank you very much, Mr. Condon. I hope everyone out there has some great questions ready for us because we have some great Chiefs up here that are ready to answer them.
Before I get going I wanted to introduce the people on our panel up here, the MAJCOM Command Chiefs.
From the Air National Guard, Chief Master Sergeant Dick Smith.
From Pacific Air Forces, Chief Master Sergeant Tony Bishop.
From Air Force OSI, Chief Master Sergeant Chris Redmon.
Air Mobility Command, Chief Master Sergeant Joe Barron.
Air Force Special Operations Command, Chief Master Sergeant Mike Gilbert.
Air Combat Command, Chief Master Sergeant David Pope.
Iím going to take about one minute for each person here on the panel to make opening comments, then weíll have questions coming after.
CMSGT Smith: I guess when youíre oldest you go first.
Itís certainly my pleasure to be here. I represent the 92,000 men and women in the Air National Guard that wear stripes on their sleeves. Many of you know some of the issues that face the Air National Guard. We are a total force in nature and also unique to the fact we have our separate state missions in our Title 32 status. One of the biggest issues facing our enlisted force today as we speak is the impact that BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) has on over 20 of our units that no longer have aircraft, and over 60 of our units that are in that situation, or have a mission change as we face retraining, and all the fall-out from re-missioning and relocation of our weapon systems and our personnel throughout the Air National Guard.
With that Iíll pass to the next Chief and Iíll look forward to a nice discussion and answering any of your questions. Thank you.
CMSGT Bishop: Good afternoon, itís a great honor and privilege to be here as well, as Chief Smith said, to share a little bit of time with you. Iím very privileged to sit here as part of this panel with a total force Air Force team representing all the issues and challenges we face as a force.
So, on behalf of all the men and women of Pacific Air Forces thanks for this opportunity. I look forward to answering some of your questions for you and spend just a little bit of time. Also thanks to the Air Force Association not only for what it does for us each and every day, but to give us this opportunity to come together with our leaders of our air and space and cyberspace force to discuss these type of issues. I look forward to your questions.
CMSGT Redmon: Good afternoon. Iím honored to be part of the forum this afternoon. Iím a little humbled by it all with the panel we have up here. And as youíll notice, as it gets further and further down the line, we have less and less to say in the opening comments, because weíre all used to it.
Iím just looking forward to your questions. I hope you have some hard ones because Chief Pope will answer them all.
CMSGT Barron: Good afternoon, Iím Chief Master Sergeant Joe Barron, Air Mobility Command. It is indeed an honor to be here and I will also tell you how much we appreciate Air Force Association and what they are doing for us in allowing us the opportunity to share with you all this afternoon. I look forward to your questions.
CMSGT Gilbert: Mike Gilbert, Air Force Special Operations Command. Weíre small, but weíre busy. Weíre bringing on new units, new aircraft, retiring others, but best of all and most importantly killing terrorists every day. I look forward to your questions.
CMSGT Pope: Hi, Dave Pope from ACC. It is my honor to represent the 84,000 enlisted people of Air Combat Command. Twenty-five wings across the world, 17 operating locations.
I like to talk about our main theme as readiness. We have a lot of challenges with readiness as we go out and execute, prepare for, and fight the global war on terrorism. So, I look forward to your questions.
Once again to AFA and Mr. Pat Condon, thank you so much, sir, for inviting us to be on the panel today and to address the tough issues that we face as Airmen. Thank you.
CMSAF McKinley: Who has our first question?
Question: Chief Davis from Air Mobility Command, the 305th Security Forces Squadron. How are you all doing this afternoon?
Chief Pope just mentioned readiness. My question, Chiefs, is in reference to the MEB (Medical Evaluation Board) process and how thatís impacting readiness. What are we looking to do to circumvent that and to ensure that those that are on extended long profiles, is that going to be reduced or are we going to continue to stay on the same line weíre on right now where you're waiting on the MEB to go through the process? Thank you.
CMSGT Barron: I know weíve all seen quite a bit of information on this within the past year or so, and Iíll tell you, I do know that our medical folks are trying to do this a little bit better and they are trying to distinguish those folks that truly are able to mobilize and those that are not. The problem is, the way we did things in the past you were either able to mobilize or you were not, but there were certain people that could do certain mobility commitments, but just not all of them.
So, the challenge we have right now is distinguishing which folks are totally not mobilization capable, those folks that might be able to deploy to say SOUTHCOM, or one of our other mobility requirements that we have with our component commands, and those folks that might be able to deploy a year from now.
So, yes, we have challenges there, but I think our leadership and I know our medical folks are definitely trying to get this a little bit better. And weíre trying to involve our commanders in the process as well now.
CMSAF McKinley: Chief Smith, do you have a perspective from the Guard?
CMSGT Smith: Iíve really not seen this as a problem, at least in the Air National Guard. Jack, I may ask you, Chief Winsett, does the Air Force Reserve have Code Cís? You do. In the Air National Guard we donít have Code Cís. The last time I looked at it it was 107,000 total members of the Air National Guard, I had 6,000 people on 422 profiles which may or may not be high. I donít know what weíre supposed to be. But, those could be short term from somebody with a broken leg, to long term not to exceed 12 months.
We continue to fill our AEF (Aerospace Expeditionary Force) commitments and our mobilization tasks by volunteerism and the folks on some kind of profile, facing an MEB has not been a problem for us, not been a hindrance to the mission.
CMSGT Pope: Iím excited about the Code C issue and that itís really made it to the forefront. This is not an advertisement for the Air Force Times, but during lunch I noticed that the 2 October issue thatís coming out has a full page article on Code Cís, and I think itís great that weíre addressing it, even in our other media sources.
Some things I think are good about the Code Cís are, when we first started talking about this we had many Airmen that said oh, no, this may prevent me from deploying or prevent me from staying in the Air Force. What it has really done is it has asked us to go out with the medical system and review and stratify the different cases. So, weíre going to have a C1, C2, and C3 in our Code C business. I believe that gives us predictability. The reason for that is if somebody has an issue, they donít tell us, we find out about it at the last minute before they deploy. What does that do for us? It adds predictability, prevents a reclama process and some of those kind of things.
Iím also excited because many of us that have been forward, youíve probably seen that some of the bases are a little bit different. At Balad, at Bagram, it might be a little bit different there as compared to al-Udaid which has full service that could really help our folks out, or even at Balad.
So, Iím excited about it. I think thereís going to be more discussion on it.
One last piece is the medical folks in the SG (Surgeon General) world will notify the squadron commander when Dave Popeís profile changes. So, just like if youíre in a flying squadron and you're changing your flying status and youíre taken off PRP (Personnel Readiness Program) or off flying status theyíll contact the squadron and say Dave Pope is now on a 422 profile (medical waiver).
Versus what weíve done in the past, we relied on the member to come back and tell us and sometimes that didnít get entered into the system.
So, once again, it gives our people predictability, and I think it will be a win/win for the Air Force.
CMSAF McKinley: Next question?
Question: Good afternoon, Major Philip Goth. Iím a student at ACSC. I have two questions. Iíd like to ask my first question first and get a response, then ask my second one.
The question is actually for the AFSOC Chief. As you know, the war on terrorism or war on idealism is a lot more than just killing the terrorists. Itís changing the hearts and minds of those who may possibly become our enemies and to ensuring that they donít and they donít see the West as bad, but rather the West as good. I was wondering how AFSOC is maybe changing its training so that you change your mentality and your counter-insurgency operations.
CMSGT Gilbert: Well, weíll still kill the terrorists.
Weíre obviously involved in FID (Foreign Internal Defense) and any number of other ways with our Special Operations partners in developing the coalition forces and working with countries across the world in ways that are well publicized. As far as the training to our people, I think weíve got it pretty spot-on. Those that are out there working with us, coalition forces, are doing a phenomenal job, working with the indigenous forces and doing great things.
We could always use more language training and cultural training. Weíve got that in our Special Operations University, in any number of courses. So, I think weíre addressing it, but a lot of the things you see in that area I think in the Special Forces world, and we do augment them and help them as they go out and work much more closely with foreign troops.
But, again, I think weíve got it right. We are doing our bit on the taking care of those guys part, too.
Question: Thank you.
The second question is more of a philosophical question. Iíll probably create maybe a little bit of dissonance when I ask the question. I believe it was your predecessor, Chief, who put out a memo that wanted to reduce the amount of which the Indian chief (logo) was used. I was very much disappointed when that happened because I saw the Indian chief as a warrior, a leader, someone with great mentality, courage, all those very good things, and I didnít like to see that as being seen as a bad thing. I just wanted to get your gentlemenís opinion on that and your feelings on that.
CMSAF McKinley: I helped craft that message of my predecessor and I really agreed with it and I still do, but weíll start with Chief Bishop.
CMSGT Bishop: Chief Smith told me my answer was no comment.
Sir, you ask an interesting question about something thatís pretty near and dear to all of us that grew up in the enlisted force that have always seen those symbols and so forth. Hereís what I would tell you.
I think the message was crafted for the right reason with the right intent because across our Air Force we had some chiefs or some chiefsí groups at different bases that had gone too far. We actually had ceremonies where they would take a brand new chief master sergeant and parade him across the stage wearing an Indian headdress or beating their drums or different acts like that.
One of the things that we have to always be very sensitive to is one of our greatest strengths is the diversity of the people that make up the United States Air Force. We would never want to offend the heritage of our American Indians serving in the United States Air Force and the things that they hold very dear to their belief; nor would we want to do that with any group.
Thereís a lot of sentiment and a lot of passion towards what those mean, and as you said very well, those symbols indicate part of our American heritage. They stand for warriors and chiefs of those different tribes stand as leaders which, I think the Chief Master Sergeants of the United States Air Force are great leaders. But, at the same time we have to be very careful with what we symbolize with being a Chief Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force and those things that are of special heritage to different groups that help make up our Air Force.
The bottom line I would tell you, whether or not we have those symbols hanging on our walls, or whatever, does not detract in any way from a chief master sergeantís ability to lead the enlisted force of our Air Force.
So, I would say the focus is put on Chiefs as leaders and not on the symbols that we associated with it.
CMSGT Redmon: As Chief Bishop said, chief master sergeants in the Air Force are leaders as the American Indian chiefs. The challenge was making sure those lines werenít blurred. In some tribes in the US it was very offensive to have non-Indians wear the costume or wear the headdress. Rightfully so, because they didnít earn it. In other tribes it wasnít so much an issue for them.
So the Air Force took the high road and I agree with it. Weíre not in a position to offend people. The only people we need to offend are the ones that Chief Gilbert was talking about, the terrorists out there in the world, and we can offend them all day long. But, we donít offend the people in our own nation. We donít offend where we came from. We donít offend the people that helped build this country and set us on our path. We canít be doing things like that. Itís wrong to our fellow Americans because weíre all Americans.
The stories about the headdresses and the drums was taking it way too far. Just like every endeavor it has a tendency to go too far if not kept in check. It got to the point where it needed to be kept in check and we needed to bring it back on line. It doesnít take away from what we as Chiefs in the United States Air Force do, nor does it take away from the American Indians with us not associating with those symbols any more.
CMSAF McKinley: Any other Chiefs want to make a comment on that?
CMSGT (inaudible): Just real briefly. I agree with both of my other Chiefs up here, but Iíll have to say, whatís wrong with the symbol that I wear on my sleeves? Thatís what I represent and Iím proud to wear them.
CMSAF McKinley: That question has already been popped up to me in my first couple of months on the job here and very simply, I have no plan, and Iíll go ahead and make it public right now, I have no plan on going back to the way it was. I want Chiefs to be recognized for the true professionals that they are and have no plans on going back and bringing back all the native American stuff. So, I think weíre on the right direction. Next question.
Question: Deborah Westmoreland, Lackland Air Force Base.
Secretary Wynne said something about a smart scholarship. I would like to know more about that, who our target audience is and what medium the Air Force is using to get the word out. Thank you.
CMSAF McKinley: Does anybody know anything about that up here? I will research and we will get back to you. Colonel Boley?
Colonel Boley: Iím Colonel Boley. Iím commander of the College for Enlisted PME (Professional Military Education) and I can tell you there is an initiative that has the support of Chief McKinley thatís being led by my commander, General Lorenz, and that is to give college credit for enlisted PME and to hopefully come up with a program where a Bachelorís degree is within the real grasp of a senior NCO. Thatís almost a done deal. Weíre working those programs now and youíll see that come in the near term, within a year to two years.
When a Chief Master Sergeant gets ready to retire donít you think heís earned his Bachelorís degree by then with all the things that heís gone through, or she has gone through? The certification programs are looking at the different schools that weíve gone to and that weíve sent our senior enlisted to, actually all the way through, and weíre going to be able to come up, I believe, and so does General Lorenz and Chief McKinley, with a program where a Bachelorís degree will be within the grasp of a senior NCO.I hope that answered the question.
CMSAF McKinley: Thank you Colonel Boley. Actually, Iím going to work on that to see if we can have that not just for senior NCOs, but anybody that fulfills the requirements. But, thatís a great thing and I appreciate Colonel Boley and General Lorenz really working on a Bachelorís degree for enlisted personnel. Thatís going to be fantastic. Next question.
Question: Sergeant Davis from Hickam Air Force Base.
One of the questions I have is, Iím a dormitory manager right now. I know theyíre doing a lot of privatization in housing for the enlisted people who are married and such, but have they considered doing a broad, Air Force-wide dormitory privatization where they could improve the quality of life for the residents in the dorms as well?
CMSGT Pope: We have looked at that because if you go forward to the CENTAF area of responsibility youíll find that we donít have dorm managers managing the tent city. Weíve been asking our transformation efforts to kind of go through and say is it a shooter, is it somebody that helps us fight and win the war? Maybe not. Then why do we need that skill back at main base in garrison. So, we are doing some look-see and trying to go through and trying to say is this really the right thing to do.
There have also been questions on do we even need a dormitory program. I think the answer is yes. Why do we have that?
As we know, the first year through year number three weíre trying to establish the Air Force culture into our Airmen. We believe thatís the right place to do it, in the dorms. So, who is the right person to do it? A contractor to help us with that? Or maybe a military dorm manager. I believe itís a military dorm manager that helps us with that.
So, I believe that we have NCOs in there helping us be dorm managers, helping us instill that culture. Maybe that kind of goes against my warfighting mindset that says dorm managers donít go forward, but possibly we could deploy our dorm managers and have them help us manage the permanent party tent cities that we have forward right now.
CMSAF McKinley: Chief Bishop, could you give us an overseas perspective?
CMSGT Bishop: I absolutely agree with what Chief Pope said. The key is as we transition our new combat Airmen from the training environment to the operational environment, itís critical that we have NCO leadership around them 24 hours a day. We have countless documented cases in our Air Force where weíve had Airmen that committed different incidents in the dorms, or had too much to drink, or got out of control, and as we peel the onion back we find out itís their environment they grew up in their dormitories where they kind of lock themselves in their rooms or hang out with a small group of people, perhaps get involved in alcohol, and donít know how to control it, whatever the case may be. NCO leadership is the key to success of the Airmen of the United States Air Force. Thereís no gray area about that.
We donít just turn that off when they leave the duty section. When they leave there and they go back to their dormitory, we need a noncommissioned officer in charge of that dormitory and those Airmen while theyíre in that dormitory to make sure theyíre getting the supervision and the guidance, and more importantly the leadership they need to be successful in our Air Force.
So, from an overseas environment Iíll tell you different bases have looked at it. In my experience itís not worked well when we privatized our dormitories because their focus then becomes a lodging operation. A dormitory is not just a lodging operation, itís an environment to continue to grow as an Airman for our Air Force.
So, I would tell you, Sergeant Davis, that we need NCOs there. They provide a combat skill to take care of our Airmen to ensure they are focused and ready to fight when theyíre called upon.
CMSAF McKinley: Sergeant Davis, I want to thank you for being a dorm manager. I see that as one of our premier jobs an NCO can have. In the past weíve had a little stigma attached to the dorm manager as maybe thatís not the sharpest person, and thatís absolutely wrong. I see the dorm manager as one of those key leadership positions like an MTI (Military Training Instructor), like a PME instructor, that we need to start looking at dorm managers as key NCOs in those type of jobs, that thatís a great stepping stone to the future to go do a three year stint or so as a dorm manager, so thank you for the job that youíre doing. Next question.
Question: A follow-up. More what I was concerned about is the quality of life of the dormitories themselves. Not so much as if they have an NCO in there. I donít mind being in that position, I think itís a position that is needed because they do need somebody to kind of help walk them through things, but the married military members are moving into really nice housing when some of the dorms are still kind of run down, have mold issues, and things like that. Iím more looking at privatization or some way of improving the current dorm situation for the residents themselves.
CMSAF McKinley: Chief Gilbert, I recently visited you down there. Could you talk about some of your dorms?
CMSGT Gilbert: I was on a panel that was looking at the privatization of dormitories a year ago. I donít know whatís become of that, but I can tell you there were some serious concerns, because they donít go in and build them on your base. They were talking about an off-base kind of thing. We would not be able to go in and do inspections because these would be out of our jurisdiction. With permission and that kind of stuff, which may or may not work. Having been a first sergeant, I would think it wouldnít.
So, there were a lot of issues on that. I think the chiefs have had it exactly right. This is not just a housing issue, and we do need to work on continuing to improve our dormitories and I think on most bases youíll see some effort going on on putting some really neat dorms in place. At Hurlburt we certainly have had some good experience there. You go to some other bases, theyíre still struggling. But, at the end of the day it takes the unit leadership that makes those dorms, and of course their continuing involvement, and Iím not sure that privatization is the answer to that.
CMSAF McKinley: Next question.
Question: Tech Sergeant Jennifer Tierney from Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts. I was wondering if any of you have spoken with your senior officer leadership regarding force shaping and the impact that itís having on our lieutenants with prior enlisted service.
CMSGT Barron: Iíll tell you, that is one that definitely hits me home, knowing that I recommended to a few young NCOs a few years back that they put in and apply for a commission. Unfortunately, I do know one or two that did apply for that and were affected from that and now are being separated.
The advice I am giving to our young Airmen and NCOs that are working on their college degrees is of course telling them they need to do that, that they need to pursue their college education and they need to go ahead and if they can pursue their degrees. But, I will also tell them until this turmoil kind of slows down, until we get through a lot of these cuts that weíre going through in the next few years, I would also recommend that they hold off applying for a commission for a little bit until we get through this. Because it is something that I know, it upsets not only me, but I will tell you it upsets our leadership and I know it upsets my commander.
CMSGT Bishop: Iíve not had that particular conversation. Iíve not had very many young officers within the command to address that, to let me know they were affected by it after being prior enlisted. As Chief Barron said, though, itís a concern that we would ask our people, our young Airmen to become officers and then find them in a year group that they may be affected and subsequently separated from our Air Force. Frankly I have to do more research to find out how many people we have affected and how we can avoid putting them in that situation.
The one thing I would tell you, maíam, from General Moseley on down, Iíve heard everybody say for every Airman that wants to stay an Airman, and thatís with a big A, theyíll have an opportunity to do so, so while that may pose a challenge for us there may be ways to find to retain them either in the Air National Guard or the Air Force Reserve command, part of the total force. And as we have seen with so many people serving on active duty today, there may come a time later where theyíll have the opportunity to rejoin the active force as an officer and remain true to our Air Force.
Thatís a challenge and Iíll do some more research on it.
CMSGT Smith: Our Chief of the National Guard Bureau along with the Director of the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard took a different approach on force shaping and PBD 720, and opted not to do the personnel cuts that were requested of us, along with the 40,000 active duty cuts and the almost 8,000 for the Air Force Reserve, but rather to pay for that over the five year budget, í08 to 2013 monetarily.
So, our end strength of 106,800 in the Air National Guard will not be cut, so we will not be asking young officers and young Airmen to leave, but obviously we will have some difficult times with funding in that five-year period by paying our share of the bill.
So, the Air National Guard is participating, but weíre participating in a much different way than with the number of our end strength.
Bottom line, we will have positions and opportunities for some of those folks who leave the active duty to either find full time employment or drill status employment, which 70 percent of our force is part time in the Air National Guard.
CMSGT Gilbert: We had a few that were affected. Iíll tell you on an individual level itís a very sad thing.
Now whatís the message going forward? Weíre going to be losing people in the enlisted force. Right now it looks like weíre going to be able to do it through attrition and all that, but I think what we all need to do periodically, and now is certainly a good time, is kind of look at where we are, look at what the opportunities are ahead of us, and then take advantage of those.
Iíve been in the command about four and a half weeks now, and as I travel around I keep running into great jobs, great opportunities to go and do really good things for the country that are undermanned. So, weíve got opportunities for people. If theyíre willing, able, healthy enough, and can go do it, weíre hiring in many great jobs. Everywhere from combat control, PJ (pararescue) TACP (tactical air control party), intel, flying organizations are short on people, and we could really use the help. So, if youíre concerned that in your particular career field there may be a time when you're going to be asked to move or forced to move or whatever, there are opportunities available for you that are very rewarding and a great place to be.
CMSAF McKinley: Iíll add a little bit to that. I have actually spoken to many great young officers, great officers, who love being in the Air Force that were prior enlisted, and theyíve been asked to leave and itís incredible the esprit de corps and the enthusiasm they still have for the Air Force and theyíre doing a great job even though theyíve been asked to leave.
So, I still would not go out to enlisted and say I would try to dissuade you from joining and becoming an officer if that is your goal. If an enlisted member wants to become an officer and they have the skills to do that and they have the grades to do that, then fine, theyíll be successful. But, I also think they need to be educated as they go do that, that there may be a chance down the line that theyíre tapped on the shoulder for the greater good of the Air Force and weíre asked to downsize and they may be asked to leave. So, I think itís an education process that we inform them that yes, you can become an officer and we want you to be successful, but there is a chance as we still continue to downsize and right size that you may be asked to leave in the future, so itís just an education. Keep that communication going. Next question.
Question: Good afternoon, Chiefs. Master Sergeant Marasa, instructor from the Senior Noncommissioned Officers Academy.
My question for you is Iím a lively promoter of the Air Force, and the main reason why itís so easy to promote it is because of the fact that the Air Force was a life-changing movement for myself. So, when I promote it I speak with it with heart and truth to where many folks, even my peers, can think well wow, where is this guy coming from.
What I want to ask you all is, Iíve noticed in my interactions with my fellow peers and some junior NCOs and even some of the Airmen, that a lot of times they ask why are you so proud or what makes you so happy every day you put on that uniform? As I said, it was life-changing for me so itís not the same. A lot of our folks are asking for the tangible things and I try to find the ways always to promote Air Force and to keep the best in, is what we want, especially in a time of challenge.
If you had the one opportunity, if you have a senior NCO or a noncommissioned officer that says you know what, decorations arenít being handed out the way they used to, EPRs are getting tougher, the PT uniform, all the challenges, but obviously theyíre not going to leave our Air Force because they want the pay check. We do have some of those employees that are there for the pay check. What would you say to them to bring back whatís really important, the values of being an Air Force member, the core values that come from within. You have to sweat it from within not just from the pay check. Stripes, we know, Iím sure you all know itís not about what you get paid itís about what you do to take care of your people. At least thatís what I believe.
So, I ask for you all here, if you had the one opportunity to tell a troop something good or to change their feeling inside, what would you say? Thank you.
CMSAF McKinley: Thanks for your question and your inspiring words. Chief Pope?
CMSGT Pope: As a person that joined the Air Force 63 days after high school the message Iíd say is, what an equal opportunity employer. It doesnít matter who you know, itís all about you and how you apply yourself.
The United States Air Force gives you all types of opportunities for education, travel, to learn different schools. Now as we know weíve got the retraining program. Some people may learn skills they didnít ever know they wanted to learn. They may have to change jobs. But, I think the equal opportunity of joining the United States Air Force and just kind of like the old Army term, be all you can be, thatís what we have in the United States Air Force. Thatís what Iíd use as the motivation.
CMSAF McKinley: Iím going to take this on down the line. Please excuse me, I have a meeting with General Moseley, but Chief Pope, would you continue to moderate please? Thank you.
CMSGT Gilbert: Well, you can do it nicely, or you can do it this way.
Youíre a master sergeant in the United States Air Force at war, in a war thatís going to be going on for many many years against a despicable enemy that has killed thousands of Americans. You look at what our young people are doing out there today and what theyíre given. I was at Adam Serviceís funeral two weeks ago. A young man who went out doing everything he could, had only been in the Air Force about three years, joined after 9/11 so he knew what he was getting into, and heís out there fighting the bad guys and gets killed by an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade). Youíre a master sergeant in this Air Force at this time. We need strong leaders, and you know what? You either do it or somebody coming up behind you is going, to because what weíve got coming up right now is a generation of the most experienced combat veterans weíve ever had and weíre keeping them. Theyíre reenlisting, theyíre staying with us and theyíre going to make great master sergeants who know what the heckís going on. So, I guess that would be one other approach you could use.
CMSGT Barron: I guess me and Chief Gilbert, we probably agree on that wholeheartedly, having been a first sergeant for quite some time. The one part that caught me though is the senior NCO who is complaining about the decorations and the way that theyíre handed out like candy or something to that effect. All I can say for that is, change it, damnit. If you're a senior NCO, thatís your responsibility. You donít have to put anybody in for a decoration unless they deserve it. And by all means our commanders shouldnít be doing that either. If that person thinks that, thatís really what they must be doing so theyíre doing something wrong.
For the people that weíve got that are coming in right now I will tell you what, what super stars. And I will tell you, each and every one of these folks that are sitting here next to me, when we get out and we get to talk to our Airmen and listen to some of the great things they are doing, it is truly amazing. When you listen to the responsibility that some of our two-stripers have who are briefing four star generals as theyíre traveling around and explaining what they are doing in their work centers and explaining those things they are doing better and how they are making changes with AFSO 21, it is just so impressive.
So I, like you, I bleed red, white and blue and Iíll tell you, we have got the worldís best force serving our Air Force right now, and theyíre getting better every day.
CMSGT Redmon: Iíve had this conversation in the last several weeks in the travels that Iíve had around the country with my enlisted members out there in the Air Force. What I tell them is, what youíre doing now, what youíve been doing for your adult career is bigger than you. Itís bigger than what you thought it was going to be when you enlisted the very first time, itís bigger than what you thought it was going to be the second and every subsequent time youíve reenlisted since then.
If you're here for the money and for the praise and for the awards, then you're here for the wrong reason. Being a member of the United States Air Force or being a member of the United States military -- Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard -- itís bigger than you and thatís what youíve got to get through to the people out there. My peers here are correct. There are literally thousands of unbelievable people just waiting to show what theyíve got, waiting to show what theyíve got to bring to this fight and bring to this team. Thatís what I talk to my people about. You need to realize and understand and reach down inside and ask yourself why are you here? If you're here because itís the right thing, youíre here to serve your country, to serve your nation, you're here because youíre serving, you're a servant leader, then youíre here for the right reason. If you're not here for that, thank you for your service, and press on.
CMSGT Bishop: First, again, thank you for your service. I donít think we do that enough in todayís Air Force, is thank everybody who serves their nation voluntarily. Everybody thatís in this room or wears a uniform of any of our services does so voluntarily. They go into harmís way voluntarily.
One of the things you said though was, how do we bring back that enthusiasm or love for our Air Force? I would argue that itís never left. I donít think that anyone that wears the uniform today has a lack of love or passion for the Air Force or what we do within the Air Force.
But, as it was said, and I think the key to this is about leadership. We have tens of thousands of young soon to be or hope to be Airmen waiting to come into the service, and frankly, theyíre looking for some people who donít want to be here any more to leave so they can get a slot and get in the door.
The Airmen of todayís Air Force, they get it. They joined, as Chief Gilbert said, after 9/11. They know theyíre going to go deploy. They know theyíre going to combat terrorism around the world, and theyíre looking for the opportunity to do so.
I donít think we have a shortage of leaders any more, we have a shortage of leadership opportunities. These young Airmen want to come in, they are full of all the vim and vigor and energy and enthusiasm and love there is. They are proud to be Americans, and the one thing that weíve got to reestablish is pride in being an Airman. Thatís with a big A. Be proud of being an Airman in the United States Air Force serving the greatest nation in the world, and if youíre not, thank you for your service. But, I donít think that anybody in this room is not proud to be here or serving their nation, whether itís as a civilian or a contractor or active duty or Guard or Reserve. We are the greatest air and space and cyberspace force because of the passion and the love we have for the uniform we wear and the nation we represent.
CMSGT Smith: When you're fifth itís hard to come up with something unique. But, let me put this in a personal perspective to you.
I also agree with what you said, Chief, that serving in the Air Force is bigger than any of us, and I think thatís why we serve. From a personal standpoint, Iíve worn this uniform for over 35 years. Thirty-three of those years were as a drill status Guardsman. In my other job I was the senior vice president of a bank. I wore different clothes to work and I had a different job. I made a lot of loans, I foreclosed a lot, and I got damn good at it. But, you know, that was a job. This is a passion. Those were clothes I wore to work -- the suit, the business suit. They were just clothes. This is the uniform of my country. And I still get that lump in my throat every morning when I put it on. I tie the tie or I lace up the boots of my BDUs. Weíve never lost that fire. Weíve never lost that passion. So, serving is different. Itís not a job. If we look at it as a job, we look at it as a pay check, weíre going about it all wrong.
I donít think our Airmen look at it that way. Most of our Airmen wear this uniform at great personal sacrifice. They could make more money on the outside. They certainly could spend more time with their family and their communities than deploying and serving in this uniform.
So, I view it as a passion. I think the passionís very much alive throughout the active, Guard and Reserve today.
Mr. Condon: Chief, could I just do a follow-up to what Chief Barron and Chief Bishop said?
Iíve been one of those visitor folks for the last four years as Iíve served as AFA National President and Chairman of the Board. Weíve visited Air Force men and women all over this country and all over the world. Everywhere we go weíre given the opportunity to see what the men and women of our Air Force are doing today in fighting this global war on terrorism.
I will compliment you all. What weíre really talking about here is a leadership issue. I think you all are doing a fantastic job in leadership of the enlisted force of our United States Air Force.
We were in Europe and visiting at Lakenheath and Mildenhall. They gave us a tour. I wonít tell you the career field that this happened in because I donít want to discourage anybody from going into it. But, we were visiting a location run by a Chief there and he had his young enlisted folks there all lined up to demonstrate to us their job and what they do, and quite frankly, it was not one of the most attractive jobs I have ever seen in my whole life, and I was thinking to myself, my gosh, these young men and women of our Air Force are doing great work, but boy, Iím sure glad Iím not doing what theyíre doing. But, I will tell you, those men and women were so pumped up about what they were doing, they were so full of pride in what they were doing, they were so full of energy and enthusiasm and professionalism. You just could not walk away from that experience without being extremely proud to be an American.
So, I really applaud all of you for what youíre doing to instill those values in the young men and women of our Air Force because it is working. They are awesome.
CMSAF McKinley: Thank you very much, Mr. Condon. My meeting has changed so I get to stay here for a while, so next question.
Question: Hi Chiefs. Major Fletcher from Air Command and Staff College. This is about AFSO 21.
Eight and a half years in aircraft maintenance I learned that nothing gets done without our Airmen, our enlisted folks, and particularly nothing gets done if theyíre not trained properly.
I think the Air Force has missed the ball on AFSO 21, slightly with respect to institutionalizing it. I firmly believe that if youíre going to get trained on it you need to get it done in either PME or some other kind of formal training and not just throw it out there and expect people to learn it real quick, especially in the particular environment weíre in today.
My question for you all is where do you think AFSO 21 is appropriate as far as a target audience? My opinion is you donít attack the first term Airman, you let them get familiar with their particular jobs and then as they become Senior Airmen, Staff Sergeants, then perhaps you instill them with those tools and they can go do that and apply it to their functions.
What school, what type of institution, or where do you think that training ought to be conducted? Either in the field or in enlisted PME, so on and so forth? Iíll leave that with you.
CMSGT Barron: I canít agree with you more as far as giving too much training to our young Airmen, especially when it comes to AFSO 21. The one thing I will tell you is we need to listen to them because they are smart. They have got some terrific ideas. So, I would think what we need to do is to gradually train our folks in AFSO 21, maybe start off with giving them a little bit in technical training, then give them a little bit more when they go through Airman Leadership School, and a little bit more when they go through the Academy.
We are in the process right now, all the MAJCOMs, of sending one person to become our enlisted expert in AFSO 21. That person is going to be receiving 26 weeks worth of training. That is going to be our expert for our command. Iím probably, like the others up here, what we probably will end up doing with that individual is once that person is trained, having them go to our different bases, and having them brief some of our enlisted people. But, we donít want to give them too much information, youíre absolutely right. I think we need to gradually give them enough information to give them the tools to do what they need to be effective, depending on what their grade is.
CMSGT Pope: A couple of phrases that weíve all heard before. You think trainingís expensive, try ignorance, something like that. Or maybe if youíre ignorant you didnít get trained, whatever it is.
Youíre probably saying what does that mean? What Iím finding is our senior NCO corps is out there thinking this is MBO or TQM again. The reason theyíre saying that is because they donít understand what Smart Ops 21 is. Theyíre looking and theyíre searching and theyíre saying what is it someone wants me to do?
So what I believe we should do is we need to start with our senior NCO Corps. One of the things weíre doing back at ACC is, weíre talking with the functional managers. What weíre saying is what are the processes that your functional area does at every one of our ACC bases? And is there a way that we can document that and send it out so people will do the same process every place they are?
For example, the launch sequence on an F-15, F-16, B-52, B-2, B-1, what is it about a launch sequence? Because weíve all traveled around and what weíve seen is everybodyís got the best idea, a county option at their base, and they want to show that to you.
So what weíre trying to say is can we standardize those processes so we have something we can sustain? The IG (Inspector General) can go out and validate it and say this is the best way to do this type of business in each functional area.
The next thing is, people are trying to figure out what is it weíre supposed to improve? Well, what I challenge them to do is, do you have your process written down? Do you even know what it is you do every day? What I find is the Air Force is based on personality and not process. Weíve all been to a duty section, weíve all been some place when theyíve said can you come back after lunch? That person, Mike Gilbert is not here right now, theyíll be back tomorrow or after lunch. Whatís that based on? Not process, but personality.
So, to eliminate waste and to get Smart Ops 21 going, we have to know what the process is so we can train it and get everybody on board. I believe it starts with the senior NCOs where we say this is not MBO. Yes it is some of the tools from quality, but this is about survival. Forty thousand people are not funded on the books any more. For ACC, thatís 9,200 people, 1 October, that weíre not paid to keep. So, those people will not be with us, so how do we get smarter and how do we do this? I believe it starts with the senior NCO corps.
CMSGT Bishop: One of the things I think we have to understand, sir, is right now I donít know thereís any time or money to provide additional schools or send people away from the duty section to go learn about AFSO 21, but I will tell you from a basic Airman, and I donít mean as an E1, but from a basic Airman standpoint, I donít think we need to train all the Airmen of our Air Force on AFSO 21. I think itís a common sense approach to how to do things smarter and better in the future.
We do need to train some core professionals that understand how to capture that and how to change, as Chief Pope said, our processes. Air Force wide and not just base by base. But, I think our Airmen coming into the Air Force today one, are exponentially smarter than all of us at this table, thatís easy; but they get it. They understand it. They have a fresh set of eyes to come and look at our Air Force and see what doesnít make sense. Thatís what I think really AFSO 21 is, is asking our Airmen what no longer makes sense.
As General Moseley asked us a couple of months ago, what are those things we canít do any more in our Air Force because we donít have enough people, we donít have enough money? And secondly, what are those things we shouldnít do any more because they just donít make sense?
So, I think we train a core group of professionals as was stated for AFSO 21 knowledge, but then we turn to our Airmen, and again with a big A, around our Air Force to ask them about the things that no longer make sense and then incorporate those ideas to change our Air Force, to make us more lean yet more lethal for the future.
CMSAF McKinley: Sir, I think weíre just at the beginning of a long journey. This is a journey where we want every CEO, civilian, enlisted and officer, to feel that they have the opportunity, they have a voice that they can come forward if they see a better, smarter, more efficient way of doing something, they have a voice that they can go up the chain of command and they can make things happen. We can call it whatever we want to, we call it AFSO 21, but itís just recognizing the fact that we can do things better and smarter and for every Airman out there to say I have a recommendation and send that recommendation forward.
So, we need to improve on the communication. Just a few days ago I put out a perspective on AFSO 21 that went out to the whole force. Hopefully weíll get that engraved, weíll get some people educated, weíre going to work and see where we put it into our PME. Iíve been talking to Air University on that. So, it will be coming down the line and I think we need to stair-step it as we go. Next question.
Question: Good afternoon, Jeff Halstead, Chief Master Sergeant, Retired.
Some years ago I was a first sergeant and before it was in vogue to do so I turned in my [diamond]. I know in recent years weíve changed that process. I believe Chief Gilbert had an instrumental part in making that happen. Iíd like to know what the Chiefs feel about first sergeants and also to apply some encouragement to our younger NCOs here about becoming a first sergeant.
CMSGT Gilbert: I think itís been outstanding. A great idea, well implemented.
In my personal opinion itís really worked out well. Obviously I worked with a lot of folks and got some great push by the Chief Master Sergeants of the Air Force to move in that direction. What weíre seeing now is weíve got former first sergeants out doing things where we did not have former first sergeants doing before, through other measures we were able to do because we started, we made it a special duty versus a career field. Weíve been able to push senior NCOs who probably wouldnít have volunteered for the job, but are doing an outstanding job now that theyíre in it. Into the special duty, and we are fully manned.
If somebody had said five years ago we were going to be fully manned in first sergeants, I would have been shocked. But, weíve gotten there. So, to me itís been a great thing. We havenít been kicking people out of the business although it provides the opportunity to release those that may not need to continue on and do six years versus three.
I think personally from where I sit, and not having been the career field manager, but as Iím out there as a command chief looking at how the first sergeants are taking care of their troops, taking care of their commanders, taking care of their bases, everywhere I go it is better than it used to be.
CMSGT Smith: Iím a very strong supporter and advocate of the first sergeant program. I think our first sergeants do an outstanding job of taking care of people and thatís the only thing theyíre really tasked to do.
I tell at least the Guard portion of the class when I go down to every Guard class at the First Sergeant Academy, all AFSCs are important, but if I had to really pick out one that to me personally is the most important, itís the 8F first sergeant because they take care of our most important asset, our people.
I think itís a career broadening experience for our folks that serve in that position. They all go on to greater things, most generally. Most of the people on this panel have been first sergeants, so not only is it career broadening personally, but I think what the contribution is back to the organization is immense. So, Iím a very strong supporter of the first sergeant program and what it does for our mission.
CMSGT Redmon: I think a first sergeant is an absolutely critical member of the leadership team of a unit. Youíve got the commander, the chief and the first sergeant. They make up the core of the leading, the CEO function of that unit. Without a successful first sergeant the unitís going to suffer. Iíve had example after example of great first sergeants that Iíve had an opportunity to work with. I couldnít do without them. They do some amazing things. And their focus, a first sergeantís focus is the Airman, the people. Thatís what his or her job is and the ones Iíve dealt with, and Iíve had some experiences with a number of them, have done absolutely great work. You canít run a unit without a successful first sergeant. You just canít do it.
I know in our organization, OSI, our organization is a special duty and normally when you come in we donít let you go, but we as an organization have recognized the fact that a first sergeant is so critical that weíre pushing our senior NCOs for career broadening to the first sergeant field, 8F field, because we want that experience brought back into our organization because it will make us that much stronger. Thatís how committed we are as an organization to it. Itís an absolutely critical job.
CMSAF McKinley: Chief Bishop was recently the Commandant of the First Sergeant Academy, so we definitely need something from Chief Bishop.
CMSGT Bishop: I thought I was going to avoid that one, Chief.
I would tell you that we need to learn some lessons from some of our fellow services. I think the Army and the Marine Corps, they look at their E6s, for example, as kind of a time to separate the wheat from the chaff, Iíll say. I think the Air Force could do somewhat the same thing. As we look at our NCO Corps, and I think Chief that was your question, as we look at our staff sergeants and our tech sergeants out there and we start growing them up. As we identify in them the leadership potential to go on and do bigger things in our Air Force, to become our career field managers and our group superintendents and our command chiefs, I think we have an opportunity then, and more so a responsibility, to push them through the First Sergeant Academy.
One, we need to get them out of our stovepipe environment we grew up in in the Air Force. Most of our great maintenance chiefs can tell you everything you want to know about an airplane or a weapon system or what goes on in that flight line, but we have not given them the leadership exposure outside of that environment. So, while they are great functional leaders, theyíre not as skilled as an Air Force leader as they could have been had we developed them properly.
So, I would tell you that in my experience at the school house and watching the transformation that happens from a functional leader as a young master sergeant to an Air Force leader of people in the future is amazing. They do go on to become our command chiefs and so forth, as Chief McKinley standing there was a former first sergeant who is now our Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force.
So, I think like we do with our young officers who we make as squadron commanders, we have an opportunity to test their leadership ability, to put them in a leadership environment, and then to grow them up to go on and do bigger and better things. And as the Chief said very well, to take that leadership experience back to their stovepipe functional community, the dividends weíve seen from that, from what Chief Gilbert started as the functional manager for first sergeants is overwhelming. They go out, they become a first sergeant, they see how CE in cops and maintenance and ops and everybody else brings their mission to bear on the fight and then they take that back to make us all better leaders in our Air Force. So, I would tell you all those young tech sergeants out there who are about to become masters who have the kind of leadership potential to be our future senior enlisted leaders, itís your responsibility to send them to the United States Air Force First Sergeant Academy.
CMSAF McKinley: I will echo something that Chief Bishop said, I think itís a very good point, is developing senior enlisted leaders. How do we do that? How do we get a senior enlisted leader to a position of higher authority? Sometimes, most of the time, we wait until the person makes chief and then we send them a sheet saying would you like to be a command chief? Yes or no. And is that the right time to be asking a personís career direction after they make chief master sergeant? So, maybe we need to look at what development we need to develop our senior enlisted leaders instead of waiting until after they make chief master sergeant. After you make chief master sergeant it may be a little bit too late to go and do something else to enhance your development. Next question.
Question: Lieutenant Colonel Wong, University of Utah, Air Force ROTC. Iím a career aircraft maintenance officer with 19 years, and first of all Iíd like to thank each of you up there and all the senior NCOs in this room for your outstanding leadership. There is no doubt that the backbone of the Air Force is our senior NCOs and great job.
My question regards EPRs (Enlisted Performance Report). Thereís been a lot of rumors regarding adding fitness performance in the EPRs and OPRs (Officer Performance Report)and I was curious about the time line for that.
CMSGT Pope: Chief Murray, a couple of years ago, asked me to chair the IPT (Improvement Process Team) on documenting fitness in performance reports. We found that there were some interesting conversations that needed to take place in this. One of the things was genetics. We wanted to make sure that people did not have a genetic advantage when it came to their performance reports. Some people may be smarter than others, but some people may be star, gifted athletes, just due to what their good parents gave them.
So, as we looked through it we tried to say what is fair. How do we mark the front side of the performance report? Is it a go/no go? Pass/fail? Or should it be a stratified markings on the front side based on their scores?
Then we found out that there could be some people that could be disqualified for a short period of time and could not test. Pregnancy might be one; broken leg; something that will change in time and they could be back to their full-up status.
So, we found it was a much tougher deal to go through than just saying okay, weíll document fitness on the performance report.
Since then weíve had a couple of other IPTs have met and looked at the performance report. They said why just change one block on the front for documenting fitness? Why donít we revamp the whole EES system, the enlisted evaluation system, starting off with who is the rater, who should do the feedback, what is the feedback, what type of report should an Airman have, NCO have, Senior NCO have? So, right now weíre still studying the whole EES system trying to figure out what is the right way as we implement these changes.
Someone else may have an answer on the date of implementation if weíre going to change one part, but thatís what I know at this point.
CMSGT Barron: I think we have a pretty good EPR system right now, to be totally honest with you. The last time I looked on the front of that EPR thereís a little block on there and it say something about meeting standards, and physical fitness is included in that. I just donít know why we canít change our culture to use what we have now to document what we need, what we all know we should be documenting.
Granted, thereís some other verbiage on there as well, and thatís all fine. But, the way I look at it is you need to meet each and every one of those standards thatís listed on the front there and you need to be complying with all that other verbiage there, and if you donít, you donít. So, why is everybody still getting marked over to the side all the way?
CMSAF McKinley: If thereís ever an AFSO 21 initiative out there I think it should be the EPR. With the amount of time and effort we spend, leadership, bouncing EPRs back and forth and OPRs back and forth, thatís time away from taking care of our Airmen. So, Iíd like to see it where we develop a new form thatís going to be much more efficient, that we can get it through the system, and itís not a writing skill that you can write an enormous amount on the back side of an EPR.
Weíre working on that. We donít know when weíre going to get a date on that, but the MAJCOM command chiefs, weíre going to get together and come up with a recommendation here soon that we can move forward. I think thatís a good thing that we have coming in the near future.
I will also say that weíre also looking at AFSO 21 at ancillary training and additional duties.
Question: Good afternoon Chiefs, Major Mark Harris, Air Command and Staff College.
My question stems from my previous time as an OPSO (Operations Security Officer)in a maintenance squadron.
It seems thereís been a tremendous upsurge in the amount of computer-based training that comes down that is mandated to the units. My question is, concerning the broad reach of this type of training and its mandatory nature, is there a gatekeeper program that is going to be assigned to this? Because a lot of the time we get IM (Information Management), finance, all kinds of training that isnít necessarily applicable to the lowest level yet itís required all the way down.
CMSAF McKinley: Sir, I just answered that on your way, walking up here. We sent that forward as an AFSO 21 initiative for all ancillary training to find out exactly what youíre asking.
CMSAF McKinley: Next question.
CMSAF McKinley: Okay, Iíd like to start with Chief Smith with closing comments.
CMSGT Smith: I just want to thank everybody for being here today and thank the Air Force Association for having us and having a forum like this including the enlisted command chiefs from the MAJCOMs. Itís awesome to be here. Iím proud to serve in the Air National Guard in the United States Air Force. I know all these gentlemen up here are too. So, please enjoy the conference and we look forward to seeing you the rest of the week.
CMSGT Bishop: A lot of times when we get a chance to talk, whether itís in forums like this or we travel I get asked individually, anyway, why is the Air Force an Air Force of change? Why do we keep changing?
One of the things that Iíve come to appreciate recently is we were born out of a change with the National Security Act of 1947, so weíve had a culture of change and innovation throughout our history of our Air Force and thatís a good thing. But, as we continue to go through the changes, whether itís PBD-720 or force shaping or all the other issues that are affecting us, new uniforms or whatever you want to talk about, one thing I need to ask your help for is to keep the force focused on our number one priority and thatís winning the Global War on Terrorism. We have a million distractors out there, whether itís Red Horse folks wanting to wear their red hats, or a new service dress, or whoís getting paid what when they separate, those are distractors. We need to keep the Airmen of our Air Force focused on the number one priority and thatís winning the Global War on Terrorism. The one thing I think weíd all agree is that needs to be an away game. We never want to fight that game on home territory again.
So, God bless you, thank you for your service to your nation, and thanks for the opportunity to spend some time with you today.
CMSGT Redmon: I want to thank AFA for this great convention, a great opportunity to have some dialogue and learn some new things. Itís already been said here, but it canít be said enough, for everyone out there in the audience, whether youíre wearing a uniform or not, whether you wore a uniform or not, the fact that youíre here, youíre still contributing to this Air Force and this organization and I want to thank you for that.
We have a long road to go. September 12, 2001, those who had been in the military for any length of time knew this wasnít going to end quickly. This is a long, drawn out process and we need everyoneís commitment, everyoneís dedication to the end goal, and the end goal is, as Chief Bishop said, this is an away game. We want to win this game in their home town.
So thank you for your service, good luck, and God bless.
CMSGT Barron: It is truly an honor to put this uniform on every day, and I mean that with all my heart. Not only what we represent as an Air Force, but what we do for our country. Itís also an honor to be here with all of you. Thank you all, and God bless you.
CMSGT Gilbert: As they said, as you get further down the table thereís less to say, so Iíll make it quick. But, thanks for the opportunity to share time with you. I think the thing that I think about most over the last couple of months traveling around, seeing the men and women in AFSOC and what theyíre doing, is just, as leaders, just look at this young generation coming up and then consider how effective we can apply our leadership to them. Weíve just got some phenomenal men and women out there doing incredibly heroic things day in and day out and itís just humbling to be on a leadership team of an organization like that or anywhere in our Air Force. Weíve really got to look back and go wow, look at these folks coming. What a great thing that is. Thanks.
CMSAF McKinley: As my peers have already said, Iíd also like to thank the AFA for the opportunity to meet with you all today. Also thank you for all the professional development forums that have been scheduled. We all look forward to attending those, so thank you AFA.
The next thing is, Iíd just like for you all to continue to think about the four Rs, and the four Rs are readiness, readiness, readiness, readiness. Weíve got to be ready. Some folks may say that weíre focused too much on the Middle East and on the CENTAF AOR, but there are other wars going on. All the COCOMs know what they are and weíre there to support them. So, donít take your eye off the big readiness ball. We have to be ready for the next event, wherever it is.
As I travel around, I think I could do that Comfort Inn commercial with Johnny Cash singing in the background, ďWeíve all been every where, man.Ē But, itís not over. Iíd just like to thank you with what people tell me all the time in the airport. ďThank you, Sergeant Major, for serving your country.Ē [Laughter and Applause].
Now as an Airman I donít let go of their hand and I say well, Iím not a sergeant major, Iím an Airman in the United States Air Force. They always follow up and say, ďYou look pretty darn old to be an Airman.Ē
So, what I say is, do you know about your United States Air Force?
I just ask you all to help us all talk about the United States Air Force. The AFA does a super job supporting the Air Force, those supporting us from behind the scenes, but as we travel around and as you go home and somebody says to you, ďThank you, Soldier, for serving your country.Ē Remind them that you're in the United States Air Force, unless you are a Soldier, and you tell them this is what weíre doing. Itís not only the boots that are on the ground that are fighting and winning this war, but itís also the reach back, all the folks that are back here behind, to include our families that are making the sacrifice while we have about 28,000 of our Airmen forward.
So, thank you for your sacrifice, thank you for your service to your country, and please do not take your eye off the ball. Weíve got to have the sense of mission if weíre going to win this long war, the global war on terrorism.
Voice: I want to thank all the MAJCOM Command Chiefs for sitting on the panel and the great answers youíve given today. And on the first row here is all the other MAJCOM Command Chiefs, and they would have given equally great answers if theyíd been sitting up here also.
Mr. Condon, thank you for the opportunity for us to do this panel today and for everybody out there in the audience, thank you for serving in any way that youíre serving. God bless.
Peterson: One last question here sir, from the personnel side. Whatís the status of the approval of the ground combat badge?
General Moseley: Let me help correct you a little bit, itís not a ground combat badge. As we look at the process weíve got this thing now to a place that Iím told that Roger Brady whoís our A-1 can bring this to Corona next week so that these folks at this table can look at it and we can take it to Secretary Wynne for him to look at. But letís also be very clear on this, this is not a ground combat badge. This is a combat badge for the Air Force. We have a variety of other ribbons involved in this, but what the intent here is to recognize personal close combat whether you are airborne or whether you are on the surface. And so as we get closer to this thing, weíll get a good look at it next week. Iíve not seen all the details, other than the Secretary and I have told Roger go figure this out. As a previous DP, youíll appreciate that. Go figure this out. So, next week weíll get a first look at it, those of us at the table here, so we can talk about that with Secretary Wynne. It will not be a ground combat badge. But it merits discussion, because thereís no intent here to separate our surface warfighting professionals from those that fly in the air or vice versa. An airman is an airman.
Return to AFA Air & Space Conference Page