HomeNewsArticle Display

Goldfein, Wright take part in wide-ranging ‘Ask Me Anything’ Reddit session

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright take part in a Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ session Oct. 24, 2019, at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. (U.S. Air Force photo by Andy Morataya)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright take part in a Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ session Oct. 24, 2019, at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. (U.S. Air Force photo by Andy Morataya)

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) --

Like most successful leaders and decision-makers, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright understand the value – and importance – of diverse opinions and seeking out conversations where people “live.”

That’s why Goldfein and Wright were side by side in a Pentagon conference room Oct. 24, hunched over computers like millennials at a coffee shop to take part in a free-flowing, hour-long and very public “Ask Me Anything’’ session on Reddit.

It was the first time that Goldfein, the service’s highest-ranking military officer, and Wright, the Air Force’s highest-ranking noncommissioned officer, went together on Reddit to answer questions and to hear from Airmen, their families and anyone else who decided to take part.

By the time the hour ended, nearly 500 comments and dozens of questions had been posted with Goldfein and Wright typing answers in real time to many. As is typical for Reddit, the questions and conversation sprawled across many topics, but unlike some other channels on the popular social media tool, most were polite. There were also far more questions presented than could be answered during the session.

There were questions and answers on career fields, promotions and suggestions for improving the bulky system. There were many questions related to the Enlisted Performance Review system and its weaknesses. There was a collection of questions touching on mental health, suicide and sexual assault. Some were accompanied by poignant personal accounts.

There were questions seeking insight into possible uniform changes, why the GI Bill can’t be used to pay for previous school debt, and from an Airman at Incirlik Air Base asking for insight about what the future might hold. There were multiple questions about the Air Force’s computer network and how to improve the chronically predictable “communications and systems outages.”

That question triggered one of the more animated responses from Goldfein. “AMEN!!!! The spinning hourglass of death is a retention issue,” Goldfein wrote, adding, “We know this is a major frustration across the force. We're on it.”

One of the most poignant exchanges came from an Airman whose spouse had been sexually assaulted. “What is the (Air Force) doing to protect victims and their families from re-victimization and punitive actions by commanders?” the participant asked at the end of a longer post which spelled out some of the details of the case.

“We take this issue very seriously and want to ensure that no one, active duty, family member or anyone else feels like they are re-victimized when something like this happens,” Wright said in a response.

“I also know that we don't always get this right and we need to hear from you when you feel like we aren't doing our part. We actually depend on you to help us get it right. We will continue to hold our (Air Force) leaders to a high standard and we want you to help us by using your voice loudly and proudly on this issue,” he wrote.

The session presented a largely unfiltered sample from posters who can choose to stay anonymous about concerns and attitudes across the Air Force’s sprawling global operation. And given Reddit’s design, all posters are essentially of equal rank.

Goldfein endorsed that standard in one exchange in particular.

“Is downvoting a general officer a punishable offense?” one posted asked, referring to Reddit’s “crowdsourcing” practice that allows participants to elevate and highlight smart, clever, or useful exchanges while punishing lesser ones by burying them.

“Nope. If I write something stupid ... downvote away,” Goldfein replied.

Goldfein and Wright said after it ended, the session was valuable.

“I often say that good leaders ‘squint with their ears,’” Goldfein said. “I mean it. I always want to hear views and opinions from Airmen, civilians, spouses and others. Even when the topics are difficult and uncomfortable, I value the conversation and I always learn something. That’s why this session was useful and important.”

Wright, who has taken part in a previous Reddit session by himself, had a similar view. “There’s no better way to tell how well we are doing – or not doing – as leaders than by hearing directly and frankly from people,” he said. “You have to go where they are.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @AFResearchLab: At its core, the @usairforce runs on the skill of its airmen. The 711th Human Performance Wing strives to advance the sa…
🐺🌕 Viewing this weekend's #WolfMoon? .@KunsanAirBase's Wolf Pack maintains readiness for air interdiction, close a… https://t.co/gwE9A39zkU
Meet the recently commissioned Airman on track to become the first ever female Muslim Chaplain in the Department of… https://t.co/PtSmyP1Iqz
.@ABCSharkTank, anyone? The Air Force Spark Tank announced its 2020 selectees. 6 Airmen were selected to present… https://t.co/SAR8cLBPzc
RT @HQ_AFMC: A 413th Flight Test Squadron HH-60W hangs in the anechoic chamber at the Joint Preflight Integration of Munitions & Electronic…
Congrats to the all-female team that won Aviano Air Base's weapons loading competition! The team wore navy blue c… https://t.co/FKhAnKHgNO
RT @AirNatlGuard: “Assessments like this help prepare our Airmen to be ready as first responders." @149FW https://t.co/bCar4aVMfX
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Today we recognize our #Defenders. I could not be more proud to serve with you. Thank you for keeping our #Airmen, res…
#ThrowbackThursday Operation Bolo was one of the most active air engagements in the Vietnam conflict.… https://t.co/Iu6HgKEvsi
As the Department of the Air Force enters a new age with two separate services, the leadership of @GenDaveGoldfeinhttps://t.co/5CqFgKRKHB
.@GenDaveGoldfein dons a patch from SSgt Eric Formolo, 341st Training Squadron Instructor, during his visit to… https://t.co/yFnQoM6cyO
Learn about common triggers, warning signs that may indicate a need for help, resources, & coping methods that can… https://t.co/nXymZWVFSz
RT @HQ_AFMC: It is critical to the @usairforce that we develop our Civilian #Airmen into the #leaders we need them to be, says Maj. Gen. Ca…
RT @HQUSAFEPA: We can't overstate how critical our #tanker fleet is to our success across the globe...thanks to the Airmen & pilots @RAFMil
RT @AETCommand: #ICYMI: @HQAirUniversity was reaffirmed for its regional accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools…
RT @HQUSAFEPA: Rain, ice, or snow, #USAFE troops get the mission done with our @NATO allies like Norway. Members of the @435AEW Contingenc…
As we advance into the new decade, #AirForce will work hand in hand with #SpaceForce, securing U.S. interests in ai… https://t.co/nRg33Bg6TT
RT @SpecialTactics_: OPERATION TWITTER has commenced! #SpecialTactics is jumping into the action! #firsttweet #AirForceSpecialTactics https…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: What better way to start the new year than by spending time with #Airmen standing watch around the clock, protecting o…