Chief Roy reflects on first two years in office, way ahead for Airmen

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Amaani Lyle
  • Air Force Public Affairs Agency
Despite an increased operations tempo and fiscal challenges, Airmen continue to develop and remain an integral part of the joint and coalition team, the service's top enlisted Airman said here June 30 on his second anniversary in office.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy discussed deployments, resiliency, professional development and fitness, with a focus on care for Airmen and their families.

"I'm extremely proud of our Airmen.  They're educated, trained, combat-hardened and very motivated," Chief Roy said. "But we are a nation at war and the demands on Airmen and their families are high, so it's necessary to provide the resources and opportunities for their continued growth in overcoming those challenges."

The statistics leave little doubt that Airmen are and will be "in the fight," the chief asserted.

There are currently 41,007 Airmen deployed, he said, with 31,900 of those active duty, 6,501 Air National Guard, 2,409 Air Force Reservists and 197 Air Force civilians. About 219,000 Airmen are supporting combatant command operations daily.

"Our Airmen are proving themselves as valuable assets in every theater," Chief Roy said, adding senior enlisted combatant command feedback about Air Force engagement has been positive.

As the rigors of battle persist, the chief said efforts to ensure Airmen are better able to withstand, recover and grow in the face of stressors include establishing the deployment transition center at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where more than 1,209 Airmen have already attended. Additional efforts include establishing the headquarters Air Force resilience division; conducting pre- and post-deployment training and tackling numerous family resilience issues, the chief explained.

Of deliberate development, the chief said enlisted development teams, joint and international professional military education and the enlisted fellowship program continue to propel Airmen's careers.

"This year we implemented enlisted development teams for eight specific career fields," Chief Roy said. "We are looking at our senior NCOs to test our process with these career fields this year to ensure we are making the best recommendations.  Currently six of the eight AFSCs have met and provided 'vectors' for their career field's senior NCOs. That's what a vector is, a recommendation for continued developmental opportunities in regards to education, training and experience."

Some Airmen, he added, also will be able to take advantage of senior NCO professional military education in Singapore, Canada and New Zealand through joint and international courses.

"This type of education provides a wealth of experience and knowledge not just about the profession of arms, but about our sister and coalition forces' development and cultures, which makes us better partners in future operations," Chief Roy said, adding that senior NCOs who attend these schools will receive Air Force senior NCO academy credit.

Another plan unfolding during his tenure is enlisted fellowship program with Congress.

"After a year-long fellowship, senior NCOs will return to headquarters Air Force or major command legislative offices for two years, during which time they can hone their strengths, capabilities and broaden their perspectives," the chief said.

During his travels downrange, the chief said he observed Airmen continuing to take challenges head on, adding that he wants to ensure warfighters have the necessary resources and gear to effectively perform their missions.

"Having just returned from U.S. Central Command, I can tell you the Operation Enduring Freedom camouflage pattern (or OCP) is outstanding combat gear we're currently issuing to Airmen conducting operations outside the wire," Chief Roy said. "Because OCPs are comfortable, versatile and a better camouflage pattern for that environment, our intention is to eventually issue OCPs for all Airmen deploying to Afghanistan."

The chief explained that the Army and Navy also are beginning to issue OCPs, a measure that is creating a cost-savings benefit by having one set of gear for everyone in theater.

The chief also is championing fitness as an efficiency, as health costs are among the military's top expenses.

"As I travel, I see the Air Force changing its attitude toward fitness, working out everywhere at all hours of the day with members of other services," he said. "We're seeing a cultural shift in that it's not about passing the test, but maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle, which speaks to resilience.

"If our Airmen are fit and healthy, this increases mission readiness and lowers health costs now and in the future," Chief Roy said. "We must continue to press forward because - bottom line, a fit and healthy force is successful."

Looking ahead, the chief spoke about senior NCO responsibilities to mold Airmen into the most effective leaders for the military's future.

"Today's Airmen embrace emerging missions and advanced technologies with a finesse that was unheard of many years ago," he said. "They make tactical-level decisions that end up having strategic impact across the world daily, so we must ensure our competencies remain relevant to our nation's security and not hollowed."