CMSAF shares enlisted perspective

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Mareshah Haynes
  • Defense Media Activity
The chief master sergeant of the Air Force discussed his enlisted perspective during the Air Force Association's 2011 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition here, Sept. 21.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy shared with the audience what he feels are some of the most pressing issues for Airmen today and what Air Force leaders are doing to address them.

He focused on: Airmen today, tomorrow's challenges and Airmen in the future.

Roy said, during his travels around the Air Force, Airmen have brought several concerns to his attention, including the transition to electronic study materials and possibly losing retirement benefits due to budget cuts.

"(Not printing study materials) was one of those secondary effects of an efficiency initiative we started and didn't look at all the way through," he said. "That's the lesson. We cannot simply cut something without looking at what the effects are going to be."

Roy reiterated points recently made by the secretary of defense and Air Force chief of staff regarding changes in retirement benefits.

"In my tenure in our Air Force, personnel costs have risen over 65 percent, while the end strength has come down well over 45 percent," he said. "There's something going on that we need to address.

Although senior leaders are exploring ways to address personnel costs, the chief stressed the need to take care of today's Airmen.

"We have a commitment to our all-volunteer force," Roy said. "We need to stick with that commitment."

While military retirement benefits have not changed, some programs will need to be adjustedin the future.

"Our program and our force structure will change," Roy said. "It has to change. We are looking at this as a program, rather than just a force structure change."

Pending a final decision at CORONA, another change Airmen can expect to see is AEF Next, which restructures the way Airmen deploy. They will be assigned to Air Power Teams and deploy as a unit, instead of individually.

"This is a little bit different than what we do today," Roy said. "Is that good? Absolutely. (To) fall in with your own commander and your own first sergeant and superintendent - there's a lot of goodness in that."

Other issues Roy addressed were training, professional military education opportunities, personnel compensation and the Comprehensive Airman Fitness program. He assured Airmen, the issues that concern them are issues that concern Air Force leaders.

There are a number of items that are certainly on Air Force leaders' minds and some of those issues are controversial, he said. "But at the end of the day, you're part of the finest air force in the entire world and part of the best military that has ever existed. Why (is it the best)? Because of the Airmen."