Chief Roy: Air Force past, present, way ahead

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Amanda M. Dick
  • Air Force Public Affairs Agency
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy communicated his vision of the Air Force's past, present and future to more than 600 attendees at a forum during the Air Force Sergeants Association's 50th Anniversary Professional Airmen's Conference event here July 25.

The chief started the forum by comparing photos of Airmen from 50 years ago to today and how missions have developed over the years.

An example was a photo of space operations during the moon landing in correlation to space operations today.

As Roy talked about the present-day Air Force, the joint fight was an enduring topic of his.

"Our joint and coalition forces rely on us because we are a reliable partner and we operate safely," he said. "They get to know that, and they continue to come back to us."

Roy said today's fight isn't just about how we can help our allies it's also about teaching them to help themselves.

One example he used was how a National Guard agricultural developmental team taught Afghans to grow sustainable crops.

"The Afghans learned how to grow crops that are productive and not harmful," he said. "Instead of growing poppy, now they're growing corn, soy and other products they can eat and sell," he said. "That's what our Airmen are doing today. It shows the breadth and depth of what Airmen bring to the fight."

As Roy talked about the future of the Air Force and the challenges Airmen would face, he stressed the need to prepare for and anticipate future air, space and cyberspace requirements in a budget constrained environment. 

He summed up his thoughts with a quote from Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying, "I think the biggest threat we have to our national security is debt."

The chief master sergeant of the Air Force told audience members they were part of the solution to addressing budget challenges.

"We can't operate like we operate today," Roy said. "What we do today is driven by the budget, and the budget of the future is not going to be there. We're going to have to find the right way of doing business, as far as what the future holds. It's in your hands ... it's in our hands. I'm looking at you to help us get through this."

He also emphasized the importance of enlisted force development through mission focus, increased exercises, deliberate development and the sponsorship program.

Highlighting deliberate development, Roy stressed several factors to aid in the advancement of enlisted Airmen. These included roadmaps for development, enlisted development teams, an enlisted legislative liaison, joint/coalition professional military education exchanges and a single training record/system.

"We need to continue to develop our Airmen for the future ... deliberately," Roy said. "We're professional Airmen. We maintain standards."

The 16th Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force ended the forum thanking Airmen and their families for what they do every day, spotlighting first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden's efforts to support military families through their Joining Forces initiative.

"In everything we do, regardless of if we're looking at today or into the future, we rely on our families," he said. "Our Airmen and their families are going through a lot of sacrifices today, especially our families who carry a lot on their backs. We have to continue to support them."

Roy also said he was grateful for the partnership between the Air Force and AFSA.

"It's not just myself, but organizations like AFSA, that help us relay a very strong message to Congress across the board about Airmen needs and requirements," he said. "Thanks to AFSA for partnering with us to make sure our message is absolutely on target. The fact we have been partnered with AFSA for about as long as we've had an Air Force is quite significant."

(Staff Sgt. Eric D. Donner contributed to this story.)