Top enlisted Airman visits Andrews Airmen
By Senior Master Sgt. Michael J. Land, 316th Wing Public Affairs superintendent
/ Published October 09, 2009
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. (AFNS) -- The 16th chief master sergeant of the Air Force, whose family calls this base home but who himself is "just TDY here," briefed a standing room-only audience of Joint Base Andrews Airmen here Oct. 7 at an Enlisted Call during his first official visit to the base.
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy, whose government quarters are on this installation, connected with Airmen by joking about his extensive time away from home, where he gets to see and meet "our great Air Force and great Airmen."
"The group reminds me of the places I've travelled," he said to the total force audience. The chief is the first top enlisted leader to be appointed to the top enlisted position from a combatant command senior enlisted leader role, which he held at the U.S. Pacific Command until he assumed his current duties June 30.
Combatant command experience, as well as his joint-service background, to include serving as an instructor at the Army's Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., has shaped his leadership philosophy, the Monroe, Mich., native told Airmen. He explained that the Air Force is a force provider of the best qualified and trained Airmen to combatant commanders.
"We are a nation at war," he said, exhorting Airmen to remember this fact.
The training Airmen need, even deserve, was one of the chief's key messages. He discussed topics ranging from the critical role of training to professional military education, and from the changing physical fitness program to deployments.
The conduct of upgrade training is an area the chief cited as a concern. He said leaders can't take "shortcuts" in the post 9/11, deployment-laden environment.
"To stay the best Air Force in the world, it takes training," he said. "This is an area senior Air Force leaders are focused on, and on which NCOs and senior NCOs should be focused."
Professional military education and off-duty education, which he said contribute to us being a professional corps, were other areas Chief Roy said he was paying attention to. The chief highlighted PME changes, including the upcoming requirement for master sergeants to complete the Air Force Senior NCO Academy before sewing on the rank of senior master sergeant.
"How about fitness? How's that working for you?" Chief Roy asked the group, some of whom were in physical fitness gear.
The time to prepare for forthcoming program changes, from twice-a-year testing to establishment of minimum standards, is now, he said. He encouraged Airmen to read the new charts' footnotes, where one can learn exactly how Air Force leaders changed the program.
The chief offered an explanation of why the Air Force is "embarking on something that is new. Health care costs a lot of money," he said, noting that the Air Force's No. 1 cost is on personnel. "If we can keep you physically fit, the much more likely you're going to be healthy both while you're wearing this uniform and after."
Fitness earned the first question, and a couple later questions, from the audience. An NCO asked why the Air Force was doing away with mandatory on-duty time to work out at the same time it was increasing the fitness standards.
The chief explained that the intent remains for units to continue their fitness programs, so-called unit PT. The benefits include improved esprit de corps and camaraderie. He encouraged commanders, first sergeants and chief master sergeants to lead their Airmen in fitness programs.
"Folks, PT is a commitment we need to take to heart," Chief Roy said.
Addressing a question about who set the minimum standards, he explained that medical experts have linked obesity, and abdominal circumference specifically, to increased risk of a heart condition.
For all the Airmen's ongoing efforts, the chief closed the more than one-hour-long gathering by expressing his appreciation.
"I applaud you for what you do," he said.