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CMSAF, wife visit air traffic control roots

PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody and his wife, retired Chief Master Sgt. Athena Cody, returned here Jan. 3 and 4 to visit the men and women of the 157th Air Refueling Wing nearly 23 years after leaving as young staff sergeants. 

The sergeants, stationed here as air traffic controllers from June 1988 to January 1991, worked the last shifts performed by active duty Airmen before turning the tower over to the Federal Aviation Administration in early 1991. 

"It's great to be able to come back here and interesting to see how the base has evolved over the past 23 years," Cody said. "It's pretty neat and encouraging to see the evolution of the base and also how the mission has evolved."

Reflecting on the success Pease has had with Total Force Integration, or TFI, Cody said the Air Force is looking at all options as the service looks to restructure in order to meet end strength.

"I think there is no set-in-stone decision on what the structure of the Air Force is going to look like," Cody said. "But it's clear that the structure will change and evolve and when you look at the initiative here at Pease, it is part of the modeling we use to make decisions on the future of the Air Force."

During his visit, Cody held two all-call sessions: a morning session for technical sergeants and below and an afternoon session for master sergeants and above. He also met with N.H. National Guard Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and victim advocates to discuss sexual assault prevention.

"(Air Force Chief of Staff) General Welsh just recently put out his latest 'Airman to Airman' video and he talked about respect and how we treat each other, how we look at each other," Cody said. "I think what we can all do as Airmen is to ensure we're looking out for each other."

He added that each Airman has to take ownership to get to the right place, "it's going to be because we all understand and appreciate the dynamics associated with this and we do something about it."

While addressing the most common questions he hears from Airmen while traveling, Cody said that many revolve around the angst that exists throughout the service today as it relates to budget uncertainty and force management.

"Our Airmen are very much in tune to what is going on with the fiscal environment," he said. "Whether it be the force structure that we're working through, some of the force management issues we're going to execute on the active duty side of the house to get down to the end strength, or the uncertainties with pay, benefits or retirements, all those things weigh heavy on Airmen and their families."

Closing out an all-call session with junior enlisted Airmen, Cody thanked them for their service and commitment.

"We thank you for what you do each and every day for your Air Force and your nation,"  Cody said. "The fact is what you do has purpose to our nation and is impacting people around the world, don't lose sight of that. You are all part of the world's greatest Air Force. You and your families are without question our most valuable asset. Our nation treasures each and every one of you."
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