Air Force's top uniformed leaders visit Shaw

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alexandria Mosness
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy met with Airmen from across the installation here during a base visit Sept. 7 and 8.

After touring areas and meeting with representatives of the 9th Air Force, Air Forces Central and the 20th Fighter Wing, the two Air Force leaders held an "all call" in the base theater where they heard about and addressed the concerns of Shaw Air Force Base's Airmen.

In his remarks, General Schwartz recognized the efforts of local Airmen in helping to ensure national security, emphasizing that each and every Airman, no matter his or her specialty, is important to the mission.

"Everyone counts, everyone matters," General Schwartz said. "We should have pride in who we are and where we come from, but this is a family business."

The general also used the opportunity to cover various topics, including force management.

General Schwartz explained that the Air Force is over its authorized manpower levels, forcing service officials to spend scarce budget dollars on personnel costs.

"We are trying to thin out our Air Force a little bit, as we are about 4,000 Airmen over our mandatory manpower ceiling," General Schwartz said. "Do we take pleasure in this? Please believe me, we don't. But we have to size ourselves based on what the Congress of the United States dictates."

General Schwartz also talked about the importance of attention to detail and doing one's job correctly.

"Pay attention, and believe in compliance, precision and reliability," he said. "Do it the Air Force way until it changes, and continue to be absolutely professional about what you do."

Chief Roy said part of this dedication to excellence is bettering oneself by taking advantage of the Air Force's many educational programs.

"We all need to continue to focus on bettering ourselves for the Air Force," the chief said. "For example, we still have 100 percent tuition assistance. Take advantage of that to get your master's degree."

The Community College of the Air Force and the Air University Associate-to-Baccalaureate Cooperative program are two more examples of generous educational programs available to Airmen today, Chief Roy added.

The last subject General Schwartz discussed in his opening remarks was perhaps the most serious -- suicide.

"The Air Force faces a serious problem with suicide," he said. "The question for us is what do we do to make it less likely one of our teammates, family members or friends makes a short term decision to do something very permanent?"

The general answered by urging the audience members to watch their Shaw AFB teammates for indications of problems.

"If they are demonstrating signs of distress, ask if they want help," General Schwartz said. "Act, intervene and encourage them to get help. That's what we should do."

During the question-and-answer portion of the all call, General Schwartz was asked about whether or not the Air Force would continue to fill joint expeditionary taskings.

"When people are dying, we have to do all we can to contribute to the fight," the general said. "I don't apologize for filling the gaps, but this is not going to become a habit either."

Chief Roy said Airmen working side-by-side with Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the joint fight has only increased the other services' respect for the Air Force.

To illustrate, the chief related a story about his visit to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, during which a Marine sergeant major flew back from the frontlines by helicopter just to talk to the CMSAF.

"He wanted to tell me how proud he was of what the U.S. Air Force Airmen were doing in the battle," Chief Roy said. "That's coming (from) a Marine sergeant major, and that took a lot."

General Schwartz left the Airmen at Shaw AFB with one final message for all to consider.

"Chief Roy and I are trying to be the best possible chiefs that we can be," he said. "However, it's not about us; it's about all of us."