Air Force Association's 2011 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition Command Chief Master Sergeant Forum|
9/21/2011 - NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (AFNS) -- The panel members were: Chief Master Sgt. Eric R. Jaren, Air Force Materiel Command, moderator; Chief Master Sgt. Chris Muncy, Air National Guard; Chief Master Sgt. Todd Salzman, Air Force Academy; Chief Master Sgt. Pat Battenberg, Air Force District of Washington; Chief Master Sergeant William Turner, Air Force Special Operations Command and Chief Master Sergeant James Cody, Air Education Training Command.
Jaren: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen on behalf of Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Roy, I want to welcome all the senior Air Force leaders, the award nominees, the award winners that are out here and the rest of you for coming and attending with us today.
Before we go on I did want to say thank you so much to the Air Force Association for hosting this venue. It's extremely important that we have this dialogue where we can hear from our Airmen what their concerns are, as well as to allow our senior Air Force enlisted leaders, hear what's on their mind. It's very important.
Before we introduce the panel I just want to reiterate one more time, please fill out those questions, write them down and bring them up this way.
Without further ado, to your far left, Chief Master Sergeant Chris Muncy. He's the Command Chief of the Air National Guard. Immediately to your right is Chief Todd Salzman, the Air Force Academy Command Chief. After that, Chief Master Sergeant Pat Battenberg, the Command Chief of the Air Force District of Washington. Then we have Chief Bill Turner, the Command Chief of Air Force Special Operations Command. All the way over at the far right, we Have Chief Master Sergeant Jim Cody, the Command Chief of Air Education and Training Command.
These leaders bring with them approximately 120 years of experience from all crafts, all career fields. 120 -- most of it all the way there with Chief Muncy on the far left. (Laughter)
While I'm waiting on a question to come up I'm going to start the panel off with one, and I'm going to say Chiefs, are enlisted Airmen professional? Please explain.
Muncy: Usually the old guy gets to wait, but I'll throw in there. It's something we push to profess. It's gotten a lot of traction over the last year, but I think anyone is. We're in the profession of arms. We've got tons of requirements that are put upon our members.
Chief Roy and I, (inaudible) in Afghanistan in June, and I think a common piece that we push to our Airmen is the fact that we don't talk about ourselves enough, especially unless it's [inaudible]. It doesn't matter if you're in the active duty, Guard or Reserve piece. When anyone in this nation serves -- Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, Coasty -- you're talking somewhere under seven-tenths of one percent of the nation, and the keys that you need in order to maintain your military proficiency, of course you're a professional.
Why the debate piece is out there, between the educational piece, the fitness piece, the specialty piece, to us any one number within those squares, if you fail within them you're no longer a working member for us and we need to remove you and push you out. I think it's a deeper requirement than almost any other profession. And not too many professions are going to say within that first [level], you know, lay down their life in defense of the nation.
I don't know why we go back to it all the time, but we most definitely are professionals.
Salzman: I'd have to agree, but I'll approach it from a different thought process, I think.
My father was a chief master sergeant and he joined the Air Force in 1949. One of the things that we talk about is the difference between Airmen today and Airmen in 1949. That is by virtue of the training that they receive, just the responsibility and accountability that they had back then as well as the education that we receive now.
So I think we're taken that time and we've moved it forward. We understand how important it is to have a highly educated enlisted corps. We understand how important it is to have a highly trained enlisted corps. And we expect so much from our Airmen. You can see it every day in the current conflicts that we have, that we have Airmen that are in charge of specific activities, specific mission sets out there.
So I'm with Chief Muncy. I have to smile whenever this conversation comes up. I think we're all professional. When you join the military, when you say I'm going to do this job, and then you stand up and you train to the highest level, you get educated to that highest level, you go when it's time for you to go and you experience and take responsibility when it's time for you to take on that experience and responsibility. How are you not professional?
So I think we get caught up in the word too much and kind of forget to take a look at who we are and where we have come from as Airmen.
Battenberg: I think I would have to agree as well, that we are professional Airmen, and I think we're professional as long as we continue to act and develop and become professionals.
I'm also second generation Air Force. My father retired from the Air Force in 1966 as a staff sergeant. I guess it wasn't that big of a deal back then, but there wasn't a whole lot of development going on for our enlisted members. When I entered the Air Force I remember getting my CCAF degree when I was a staff sergeant, and I looked around and I was the only staff sergeant at Headquarters Staff getting a CCAF. Everybody else was a master, a senior, or a chief. Well, you fast-forward now about 28 years and I haven't met that many staff sergeants or senior Airmen who don't have their CCAF. So I think we're doing a good job of creating professional Airmen.
Our chief master sergeant of the Air Force has asked us to find ways to deliberately develop our Airmen and make them professional Airmen. I think the things that we've seen change in the last year and a half, two years, to deliberately develop those Airmen, are going a long way to ensure that we have professional Airmen.
Turner: As we move down the line here, I think unequivocally the answer is yes, we are professional. Ask any ground force team out there that has an Air Force JTAC embedded with them and they're on the side of a mountain and they're taking enemy fire and he can call in close air support within meters of that team and kill the enemy and let the team come out safe, ask them if our Airmen are professional. I think I know what the answer is and I think you do as well. So yes, from Air Force Special Operations Command, yes, our Airmen are professionals.
Cody: I think I would just add, I think all the main points have been covered. I did have the opportunity earlier this year to sit in on a one-day conference up at NDI, which was sponsored by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen. This was one of the topics of discussion during that. He basically started us off and said we're way beyond this discussion. It was kind of a clarification of point that there's no question that our enlisted men and women serving in the military are professionals. And further discussions throughout the day went on to discuss what makes us a profession. Much of our conduct. But it relates to our experience, our education, our training. With those three things we look at military men and women and whether they be enlisted or officers, as professionals.
To kind of tie into one of the many definitions of professionalism, but Webster says that to be a professional is to be part of something larger than yourself, and I would arguably tell you everybody that raises their hand and says they're going to serve is making just that kind of commitment. So as such, we're professionals.
Jaren: Great answers so far.
Chiefs, we have a question from the floor. Let's start off at the other end. We'll give this one to Jim. The question revolves around supervising millennials. It says, What is the recipe for success? And the person who submitted the question also wanted to thank you for your leadership and service, Chiefs. But Jim, if you'll start that one off. What is the recipe for success at supervising millennials?
Cody: Gosh, I don't know. I wish I had it because I could sell it to somebody. [Laughter].
There are challenges with leading through the generations. It's not just the millennials. We all come from our own generation. We have baggage associated with our generation.
I think from a leadership standpoint our challenge is understanding what's important to the millennials, putting things in a manner that they can understand and appreciate. Then at the same token, educating them and bring them along to understanding what our Air Force culture is and what they're becoming part of. Because at a given point you no longer are a millennial when you're Air Force. That's just a tag of when you were born. You're part of our United States Air Force and we share some commonness there.
So I think communication is the biggest thing. For me, I think for the Chiefs up here, I think the way we traditionally know how to communicate, that's face to face. In all the transformation that has taken place, with our millennials there are many different ways to communicate. You pick it. Blog, Twitter, Facebook, all these different medias where we're socially networked. I think my mantra for when I'm out there is that may be a social network but it's not a social connection. I think our job as leaders in the Air Force is to make sure we connect with our Airmen in the way that we know our people, we're individuals, we're human beings, and although that social networking is a critical aspect of how we can do a lot of things, it's not a social connection.
Turner: I think we're blessed to have them serving with us. They're more educated than we were when we first came in. They're more technically savvy. They're able to look at problems from different viewpoints and they're not afraid to ask the question why. And so from that standpoint, from that leadership perspective, I think that we're blessed to have them.
I think as within all generations as a leader it's our obligation to figure out what motivates our people and help them develop into better Airmen. So with every generation we all face different challenges, but we're blessed to have the millennials with us.
Battenberg: I would just like to add that I'm sure there was a group of chief master sergeants sitting somewhere in the early '80s when most of us, maybe the '60s for Chief Muncy, but who probably felt the same way. What is it? Why are these folks so different? Why are the Airmen so different? And I believe that every generation feels that they're different, but I guess as I'm a little bit longer in the tooth now I realize that people are people. Everyone has capabilities. And I really believe that the best way to handle them or to lead them is to do exactly what was taught to us. Provide some training, give them some guidance, set the example, and then get out of the way and let them do the job. I think that's really the best way to handle them.
Salzman: I think it's something we need to look at here for a lot of us that have been around I think for a while. Understand that the millennials today, they have a lot of information at their fingertips. When we grew up, we were probably told once or twice hey, you don't need to ask me why, you just need to go do it. That's not who these young men and women are, because they have the opportunity to go find the answers to anything, and they get to sit down and talk about it. They want to kind of digest that a little bit. We owe them that in this environment, because if we're not going to tell them then they're going to go get it somewhere else. I think it's important for us to make sure we craft that message to make sure they understand how all this is happening from a strategic standpoint. So there's a real challenge there. How much information do you give them? What information do they need to know? What information will help them as they continue to do their day-to-day missions?
Something else I was thinking of is, at the Air Force Academy one thing we notice is young men and women out there today, they want to get their hands on it. They can talk theory and all that, they've got that, but they want to put their hands on it. They want to do things. They want to get their hands dirty a little bit. They want examples. They want to learn. So I think if you're not out there actively talking to them and some people call it telling them war stories. That's what they crave. They want to know what it takes to be successful. I know a lot of the young cadets and a lot of young people sit down with our senior NCOs and our NCOs for that matter, and they say what are the things I ought to be looking at? What do I need to be aware of to be the best second lieutenant that I can be? I think that's important. I think that's a change in the way that they're looking at leadership and service.
Muncy: I think to frame what our Airmen are, especially the first term Airman, second term Airman, the ones going through there. Chief Cody sees them throughout AETC; Chief Salzman sees Airman at the Air Force Academy, but when you look at any of the component branches, and your active, Guard, Reserve, it doesn't matter which uniform you're wearing, only about 23 percent of high school graduates can our recruiters talk to. Now that's if they graduate. You talk to some of the larger cities around this nation, you're talking somewhere in the 35 to 40 percent dropout rate in high school, alight. So we get 23 percent of the high school graduates. In order to go through AFOQT scores and things and ask that force to score into the Air Force piece, you're in the low teens.
Now I find that group of intelligent young Americans that are out there hard charging and leaning that haven't been blogged, tweeted or talking (inaudible) on where their stance is on something, and then that group comes to us. They're already hard chargers. They're already the cream of the crop. We just have to be challenged, all senior leaders, to keep them engaged like the chiefs are saying. Keep them rolling through. They want in the game, they want in the game now. That's why they came to us. They don't need to be Halo and Modern Warfare II warriors. They really want to be warriors and they want in this. Maybe that's a little different than when we all came through this, and when the command when I was in, mount, dismount, the only two we had to worry about. Now we need to really push them a little bit more.
So I think that's it. It's just that challenge. They're already hot when they get to us and we've got to keep them engaged.
Jaren: This next question, when I read it, we think of something General Rice said at the Command Chiefs Worldwide or the Senior Enlisted Summit, they call it, he said, "Education makes training relevant."
Pat, we're hearing a lot about doing less with less, and with the fiscal environment we're going to have to think to lead. Are we doing everything we need to do to posture ourselves for the future?
Battenberg: I think we are. I think by default every time the times get tough you default back to leadership because it's leadership that's going to get you through any difficult period.
My dad told me when I came in the Air Force, if you wait around, the cycle's going to go through it two or three times, and darn if he wasn't right. I came in late '81, early '82, and I believe our Commander in Chief was President Carter. We didn't have a whole lot of money right there. We had just come out of Vietnam and we were lacking in a lot of funds for a lot of things. My first additional duty in the Air Force was at Keesler Technical Training School, I was the procurement officer. That was my additional duty. What that meant was I got to go around stealing the plastic curtains out of the showers from the other squadrons because we didn't have any. Then somebody would come back the next week and take them back.
This is not the first time that the Air Force has faced difficult times. It's probably not going to be the last time. We can't use the mantra do less with less, we know that's not true. I think if you revert back to good leadership, we depend on our leaders, we trust in our leaders. We'll make the right decisions at the right times and we'll get through this situation just like we've gotten through every other situation.
Jaren: Todd, I have a couple of situations here on the Air Force Academy. I'll kind of put them both out and you can run with it.
Are there opportunities for NCOs at the Academy? If so, what are they and how do I get there?
The second one is, can you tell us how the Academy cadets learn to lead enlisted members?
Salzman: Are there opportunities at the Academy for our enlisted corps? Absolutely. We have Academy military trainers, they would be considered maybe MTLs in the AETC realm. We have two in each squadron of 40. Those folks are there every day working with our cadets.
Something I think is important to know, when we bring these young men and women in, they're handpicked. They all meet a board. They represent about 25 AFSCs. They have got about three or four deployments under their belt. And they've got on average 15 years of service in the United States Air Force, as technicians, as supervisors, kind of been there and done that. So imagine that they're sitting in a squadron, they're talking to a young man or woman who may not have any experience at all with the military, and they're filling in those gaps. They're talking to them about active leadership. What it's like to lead in the field. What it's like to lead on the flight line. What it's like to lead in a [inaudible] field or an intel or cyber or whatever. So these young men and women, they're getting that theory, they're getting that information in military studies, then they're back in their squadron and they're getting to sit down and talk to men and women who have been there and done that. So we owe them that. It's something I tell them all the time. We owe those young men and women a nugget every day that they're there for the four years, so when they walk out of the door with all that responsibility as a brand new second lieutenant, they are going to be leading men and women who have a whole lot of experience and it's incumbent on them to know what they're getting into. I think our enlisted corps prepares them for that.
I think I put both of those questions together. But we are actively looking for young enlisted men and women to come out and give their experiences to those young cadets. And we want them to go back out into that broader Air Force, back to their career field and take what they've learned. A lot of folks say well, you've just been at the Academy, you've just been hanging around with the cadets. Show me a tech sergeant or a young master sergeant that has actively supervised over 115 people. That doesn't happen a whole lot of places in the Air Force. If they become a superintendent in a group it could be a thousand people. So they take that leadership back into those big squadrons and use that and make sure they're out there mentoring those other young men and women who may not have that opportunity. So yeah, there's quite a few opportunities at the Air Force Academy.
Jaren: I'm going to throw this one at the panel and whoever feels froggy, jump on it.
From your command's perspective, what is the biggest challenge facing the enlisted corps and what are you doing to confront it?
Muncy: I think with us it's time more than anything, and then resources on the push.
We as a body, I know I think all three parts of the total force push the ancillary training piece that eats a lot of our time. Our A1, the gatekeepers, have pressed ancillary training down to about 9.5 days. That's a lot of work, pre-deployment piece, for us.
For us the standard thing on the Guard side of the house is it's a weekend a month and 15 days out of the year. Well, we haven't been able to fund 15 days for 15 years because we're paying other Air Force systems and other ways to make the mission. The flip side is, on average our members average about another 75 to 90 days a year, just standard, as they pull up rounds, as we perpetuate now 20 years in the fight and 10 solid years, plus their stateside mission piece.
I think for us it's budget, just like everybody else. Our folks want to contribute and push forward, but it is, it's budget and time.
Cody: I think from an AETC perspective we have quite a few challenges. The same challenges facing the Air Force obviously, resources, all the military.
For us, what we do in AETC we do for our Air Force. There's no self-procurement here. We're not training just to train for ourselves, we're training for the Air Force. We're not educating just to educate for ourselves, we're educating the Air Force. So everybody's out hustling, so we need everybody's advocation. The unfortunate part is everybody has a portfolio out there that's doing our Air Force mission, so it's a balance of those effects. So I think you can all, those of you who have read what the Chief has said about education and training and how it's foundational, and obviously that's our commitment in AETC, we're faced with how do we help the Air Force transform to how we're going to do it in the future, make sure we have the right people trained and educated for what's ahead.
There's a purist way of looking at that to say hey, resources aren't an issue, this is the best way to do it, this is how we should do it, and that's the way you'd like to look at a lot of what we do. But then there's the unfortunate part that you have resource constraints and we have to somehow balance that with the same way of making sure we're going to leave it better for the folks that are going to come behind us and it's going to be sustainable.
So specifically, in training we're working with every SMEs out there, every AFSC in our Air Force, we're working with those folks to transform how we do business to still produce the best and make sure they meet the qualifications that the warfighters need out there and the commanders need, but also do it better. The same thing with education, which even gets to be a little bit more fuzzy of an area when you talk about all the different ways that you can educate, and how do you quantify education sometimes. That's the way I usually articulate it is this. You'll know when you don't have it. So that's our challenge, to make sure that those that we support don't ever have to have that feeling that you know when you don't have it.
Turner: I think from an AFSOC perspective, OpsTempo and PersTempo are probably the things that we're really concerned about in the readiness piece of that. But there's no relief in sight for the OpsTempo. Regardless of what's happening in Iraq, Afghanistan is a big fight that we're going to continue to confront, and there are other places around the globe too, that need our attention. So the OpsTempo is not going to diminish.
If you look at the personnel tempo, how do you draw that down when you have such a high OpsTempo? It's more trained Airmen on the battlefield so you really have to look at the training piece to figure out how to increase the through-put, and how to have a good solid trained professional product on the other end of that to go out and execute the mission so that the folks that are on the battlefield, many of them for ten years running, get them some relief, get them back home for more than one period of dwell, maybe two, maybe three periods of dwell. So that's a challenge that we're dealing with.
We have a good recapitalization program in place for our aged fleet. Now we just need to make sure that that fleet is properly apportioned to be able to get out there and not only execute the mission side of the house but also the training piece as well. So through the leadership of the new commander, we're working on that right now.
Jaren: I've got one here for you, Bill. It says, the air commando community is very small but it provides so much to the fight. What are the principles that make AFSOC so successful, and what are the traits that make the best battlefield Airmen?
Turner: It's really the hallmark of Special Operations is taking a small team into an area and achieving sometimes strategic results. We do that by empowering our people to go out and do things that are on the ragged edges. They do it and execute it well. To be able to do that and do it properly you have to know what the rule set is. You have to know what your own capabilities are. You have to know about the capabilities of your equipment. And more importantly, with all of that you have to know the limitations as well. But you empower the young force.
We've got small airplanes out doing magnificent work in Africa, for example, and it's a young captain, a young lieutenant maybe, and a young NCO out there doing this mission and having great impact. But we empower them to go out and do these things and trust through the training and education we provide them, that they're going to go out there and be successful. And it's a mindset. We have some SOF troops, but at the end of the day it's what's in your heart and what's in your head and your ability to go out there and passion for the mission and your ability to go out there and get it done in some very dire situations.
Jaren: Chiefs, in your opinion what is producing the most strain on the enlisted corps and what can current leaders do about it?
Turner: I think personally it's fear of the unknown. A lot of chatter about the budget that's coming in '12 and '13 and what that's going to mean for the force, but I think what we're doing about it right now is having good, solid leadership at the very top. We have to have faith in that leadership and that leadership comes all the way down from our new Secretary of Defense, all the way down to the Service Secretaries, the Service Chiefs, and the senior enlisted leaders of all the services.
I think we're doing that. You've heard our Secretary of the Air Force this morning talk about a potential look at the retirement pay structure. I think they're very engaged, they're very active in those discussions, and they will make a difference at the end of the day. So I think having faith in our leadership.
Cody: I would almost categorize it like this. I think anything has put a great strain on our force right now. It's not just one thing, it's everything. And it's when you compile all those things that we have the exasperator effects sometimes, in the negative.
So I'm going to kind of take my point in a direction of this resiliency piece of our force and our families. When you say what's stressing us, well, some of the things that we see happening to our Airmen and their families, that in turn still stresses those of us that may not have been directly impacted but are subsequently affected. So as you look at our air forces, what we're trying to do if you're in the Air Mobility Command or Air Combat Command you're familiar with Comprehensive Airman Fitness and the pillars associated with that. Our Air Force is adopting that out. I think it's a holistic approach to everything that's going on in our Air Force. Some things will impact some Airmen, other things will impact other Airmen, so it's really everything that I think our Air Force leadership is focused on, to look at this in a holistic approach of how do we create the resilient force that is able to work through all these challenges that we have today and will continue to face in the future.
Salzman: There's not much I can add to that. The flux part of it is I think what the biggest issues are. There are so many things happening on so many different fronts, and it's not lost on anybody in the room here. They're deploying, they're coming home, they don't have enough people at their job so they've got to try to fix their job and change it, but they still have to do their job. They get that rolling in there and then things change again. There's never really an opportunity to freeze the stick, as it were, just to let things go, try to do something for a while and see how it works. We do it, we change, we change it again, we change it again, we take away some people, we change it. So in some cases it's required, it's a strategic imperative. But to the guys down on the tactical level down there, if we're not explaining it correctly or providing the training or the people, it's going to get lost in the chatter.
I think too, there's so much chatter that's going on right now, I think we need to be real careful about all the information that's out there. Sometimes we at this table and maybe you out there, we're flippant and we say everything's on the table. I think we need to be real careful about that. That means a lot to a young Airman married to another Airman who has two kids and so when we flippantly say well, everything's on the table -- child care, BX, commissary, this that and the other thing, that impacts them. They're not thinking about their J-O-B anymore, they're thinking about their family. And they're thinking about the fact I know I'm going to deploy. I know I'm going to continue to go to PME and I'm going to have to go TDY and do all that but I don't know what's going to happen to my family. I don't know what's going to happen to my future. I don't know what's going to happen to the guys and gals next to me or my job, for that matter, whether I'm going to have one.
So I think it's incumbent on us, we need to be real careful about how we structure this because we have the opportunity here to continue to spook the herd a little bit, and they're taking their eyes off the ball. Right now we can't have that. We're continuing to have missions that continue to emerge and we've got to do all this at the same time, so that's something I try to talk with other chiefs about a lot.
Muncy: I think that stress pushes back again and it goes back to that root of what we're not doing as an Air Force. Again, telling our story. The vast majority of the public is not in, their focus is not on the war front, it's not on recapitalization of things, it's on how high is a gallon of gas this week and what's the unemployment rate within my state, territory, city, whatever. It's on relationships and finance. And that affects our Airmen and it rolls through. For our crew, our folks that are going through that, they're going to go, they're going to deploy, they're going to come back, they want to stay trained, they want to stay in a mission. Changing our Guard and Reserve missions takes a little bit longer. Those Airmen want to serve, but then what happens with the employer when I come back? And does the employer know what I do as an Airman? Most of the folks out in the American public, they think there's two folks in the fight -- it's the Soldier and Marine. They don't know who gets them there, they don't know who flies CAS for them, or who does their ISR, their cyber piece for them, they don't know who moves them and gets them there. Of course it's us, but we don't talk about that because we're humble servants and we just drop it back. And our Airmen think of that when they come back.
So like the Guard and Reserve, they come back in and think oh, you were where? You were at Bagram? Or are you on SEAL Team Six? Well if you're not, you just weren't there.
It stresses our folks out. I think they do tell their story, gut just not enough. We need to tell our Air Force story because the American public needs to know we're there, gang, and we don't. We can sit here and insulate ourselves and tell our own war stories, but the public doesn't know, and that in turn affects our Airmen. It affects them when they go back home. It affects their parents, their spouses, whatever. They do tons for this nation. Tons. I know we take care of them but we've got to talk about it more, and those stresses turn on them because 99.3 percent of their friends don't do this, they don't know why they're doing it, and it does, it pushes them. Then they're going to deploy again. Then where's the support for their family and their kids and whoever else is out there? It's systemic, but it's a stress.
Battenberg: I don't want to beat this horse to death, but I do want to comment that when times get tough those in leadership should step up and communicate a little bit better, maybe a little bit differently. We're turned to the generation of we think all the answers can be solved by an email. I know that when the discussion about retirement came up about a month ago there was a lot of fear in the eyes of the Airmen that I saw, and I found, and I think everyone up here at the table would agree, that the best way to communicate is eyeball to eyeball. As things continue to stay stressful we as leaders need to commutate one v. one versus hitting an email.
I know that once I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to the Airmen, the NCOs, as well as the officers in my area, and I explained to them, I've been through this before. Yes, it's a scary thought, and I don't want to see it change, but I believe our leaders will do the right thing. And oh yeah, there is something called the grandfather clause. Typically X amount of years or X amount of time in the service, they tend to look at you and take care of you. And a lot of them had never even heard of that term.
So I think it's just as times get stressful, we just have to do a better job of communicating. Again, it's got to start all the way at the top as you heard our Secretary speak today, have some faith in your leadership and the leadership will take care of you.
Jaren: I'm going to put this one out to Chris and Jim. Do you think we need any new uniforms? Or do we need any new standards? It's very open. See where you take that.
Muncy: We have a lighter weight ABU coming out, I think that's what your Airmen need and want. That's key. Think that's been the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force's focus on that, and I think the Chief of Staff's to get it down into what do your combat Airmen need, what do our Airmen need in the fight. We rolled through Afghanistan in June. Most of us were wearing OCPs, an Army acronym, Operation Enduring Freedom camouflage pattern. So due to budget things it went to three letters. [Laughter] But anyway, OCPs. They're great uniforms, they're tailored after a flight suit just like the ABU was prior to it. We just couldn't get past ourselves originally in buying those winter weight ABUs that most of you are wearing.
So I think the cries have been heard, it's running through the system right now, we're going to wear a lighter weight ABU, and I really think primarily that's what your Airmen want. That and in the box a two piece flight suit. There are a lot of folks sweating at that.
But other than that, it's not time -- Our Airmen know that. Our focus is on the fight and what they need and not so much on another uniform.
Cody: I don't know that there would be much data on the uniform. I think we'll adjust appropriately as the mission drives us to. Just change for the sake of change, I don't think that's on the horizon.
Reference the standards piece, do I think we need new standards. I would say no. Just sitting here today, off the cuff, anecdotally, no. We need to comply with the standards that we have and expect each and every Airman to do so, and then as new things change and things change in our Air Force if we have to establish a standard to account for that, then I think we're fully prepared to do that. But if you look at what we do today and how well we do it, our Airmen at large comply with standards. I think we have to play.
Muncy: On those OCPs the multi-cam or OCP piece, there's a big key and I think the Chief wanted to hit that everywhere we walked through over there, those OCPs are gear, and a lot of Airmen liked hearing that. It's gear. It's gear and not a uniform. What's the difference? Big key in there. Gear is like a flight suit. Gear is going to get issued to you. It's not coming out of whatever your clothing allowance is, and for us in the Guard and Reserve side, no clothing allowance. We've got to fund for that within our A4 for all of our wings and GSUs. So it's gear and it's going to be given to you as you deploy within it, the system will pick that up and pull it through. I think Airmen, again, there's less stress and less grocery money, less rent money or something like that that's got to go into one more piece for it, and we're giving the warfighter what they need.
Jaren: We're getting very close to that mark and we're going to have to start wrapping it up. If we can start with Jim on this. Maybe some closing comments. I've got about five questions here and they're all discussing advice you would give to junior Airmen, advice you would give to junior officers on building a successful career. And maybe kind of blend in your closing comments with that.
Cody: You listen to the tone of the panel, you kind of listen to the tone of what's going on in our Air Force and sometimes because we have these things going on right now, lots of changes for lack of a better word, lots of thought going on to how our Air Force can [inaudible], there's a tendency to get in this downward spiral. Like we're in this nose dive and we need to pull up.
It's appropriate that we have these discussions. They're needed discussions. I think our Air Force leadership is on the right track to come out with what the best solution will be given all the factors to be considered. But we're still the greatest Air Force. We still have the greatest Airmen. We have great families. We have people sacrificing every day and we can't get down on ourselves. We've got a mission to do every day. We need to stay focused on that mission every day. We need to take care of each other in a way that maybe we didn't have to a few years ago, but it's a good time to relook at how we're taking care of each other.
As far as what I would give for advice to young Airmen, hey, there's going to be a lot of great opportunities in front of you as things move to the right in our Air Force, and I encourage you to take advantage of it. I like to use this as a great analogy. There's a lot of opportunity in our Air Force to shape the future, and a lot of people in our Air Force will be shaped by the future. You need to choose which path you're going to take.
Turner: I think the best advice that I can offer is stay the course. Stay strong. Continue to stay focused on the things that matter. For those that are in leadership positions, protect your Airmen from those things that distract them from the mission. That's your job, to absorb that.
At the very root of it the individual level, I think, and I still do it, before you walk out of your house in the morning or the evening or down-range or wherever you are, you should look at yourself in the mirror and say am I going to be the best that I can be today? And am I going to go out there and do my mission to the best of my ability? If the answer is no, then it's time for a gut check. If the answer is yes, then wear your uniform proudly, whether it's an OCP or a flight suit or an ABU or your blues and whatever it is, go out there and execute your mission to the best of your ability. Trust in the leadership that you have. Don't be afraid to raise questions up. Make sure that you're able to articulate those free of emotion. Passion is good, emotion is not always good. And just go out there and be the best Airman that you can be.
Battenberg: I can just take this opportunity to say thank you for the opportunity to make this comment.
I think back, and one of the things that I valued the most were folks who weren't afraid to make a decision. The advice I'd like to give to our junior NCOs and our junior officers, that if you have the title such as NCOIC or OIC, then that title does mean something more than just something you write on your OPR or your EPR. It means that's an NCO in charge, or an officer in charge. You're in charge of that level.
During World War II, we think back to our greatest generation, a lot of our group and wing commanders were 24, 25, 26 years old that were flying a lot of those missions. Don't be afraid to make a decision.
One of the things that I really respect is in the art of leadership, someone who finds a way to say yes. Even though it would be easier to say no, because the AFI says I can say no. Someone who really practices the art of leadership will look into that AFI and look from both sides, maybe from the back side of it, and look and say it says no, but if I look at this angle I think I can say yes. I think we can do it if we look at it from this perspective.
So don't be quick to say no. Find a way to say yes.
If another Airman, NCO or officer is asking you for your help, they probably need it. So find a way to say yes instead of quickly saying no.
Salzman: I'd take a little different stab at this when we're talking about junior NCOs and junior officers. I think it's incumbent on our senior NCOs and our senior officers to look down and say how can I build these young NCOs or these young Airmen up? What are the opportunities I can provide to build these officers who are going to become senior officers. For us at the table here, we're already looking out 20 to 30 years, and that's where our next major command commanders, our COCOM commanders are coming from, our next Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. So it's important for us to start going out there and looking for that opportunity. I'm lucky, I get to do that every day at the Air Force Academy because I get the opportunity to go out there and I wonder, which one of these young men or women are going to be a major command commander in 20 years? Which one of these will be the Chief of Staff? And we get to have an impact on their lives.
Was also need for folks to go out there and look at our enlisted corps and say does this young man or woman have the leadership skills to become a commissioned officer? I think more of our senior NCOs need to take that hard look and say I think that's the person that should go to the Academy and they should become a commissioned officer, because again, we, the enlisted corps, are taking a vested interest in tomorrow's future. So I'd twist that up just a little bit there. I think it's important for us to look for that opportunity for those young men and women.
Muncy: Thanks again to AFA for having us and making sure that this [inaudible] still rolling through there. We like to share.
My wife's a retired enlisted member. She retired in August of '01. Good timing. The next three years at least for me, to go overseas in some contingency areas. And by the way, that's ten years ago and she won't get a check for another 12 or 13, which means I just told her age on the stage. But anyway, that's kind of an economical piece that we roll.
Our oldest daughter is a major in a blue uniform. Her husband is also an Air Guardsman out there. Our number two is a command post Airman in the Air Guard. Number three is a security forces defender who just came back from his first 179 [inaudible]. Number four's got his hair long and a nose ring, and said you guys have got it covered. (Laughter)
Anyway, when number two, she's finishing her sixth. When she wrote her first tear-soaked letter back from Chief Cody's Lackland Air Force base at BMT, her first tear-soaked letter back to her parents who were both enlisted members, who should have known better than to send their daughter, you know, on the back of the letter she wrote a quick note to her brothers, who were one, a freshman in high school and one a junior and it said, my wingman is from Laguna Beach High. This is six years ago. Laguna Beach at the time I think was a show on CW or MTV about California. And to two little boys in the cornfields outside of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, that's all they were thinking about. We're going to meet girls from California. [Laughter]. So they didn't care about what their big sister was rolling through, but what did dear old dad the chief see on the back of that letter? The first concept she learned on our United States Air Force, our blue suit business, my wingman. It is the first thing you're issued. Are you following up with that in your units, if you're enlisted or officer? My wingman.
The second thing one of those Airman are going to get issued at Lackland Air Force Base, from those general counselors and smoky the bear hats down there, our NTIC, is a weapon. They're going to learn it, it's part of them now. That's the expeditionary Airman concept that we push to them.
The third thing is you asked what will make you a successful officer and enlisted member, a leader of those folks? It's this. This little tiny brown book. Air Force Instruction 362618, Enlisted Force Structure. Pretty simple, but sometimes we need to roll back to simple things. It fits in your flight suit, fits in your ABU pocket, fits in these blues. You want to know what makes us tick and what drives us? It's this. This little brown book. Roll to it, pick it up. That and our Air Force core values that are embedded in all of you and you will make your enlisted force roll and roll smoothly because everything we ever needed to know to be successful Airmen in our blue suit business, whether active duty, Guard or Reserve, we learn from those [gentle spoken] counselors at Lackland Air Force Base no matter how many years back that is and it continues today.
They're great Airmen. Take care of them. Take care of yourselves. Take care of your wingman. Take care of your families. Thanks for having us today.