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CMSAF visits Academy Airmen, addresses EPR, fiscal concerns

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AFNS) -- Today's Airmen are more than capable of taking on the unpredictable fiscal and operational challenges of modern times, the Air Force's top enlisted leader told a crowd of 200 Academy Airmen who attended his all call here Oct. 3.

Speaking to the crowd from the floor of the theatre, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody said Airmen may be doing more with less but history proves they're more than capable of accomplishing the mission, even in an era of tight fiscal and manning constraints.

"I want you to be real proud of something," he said. "Take a quick moment to think about this. There were 2.2 million (serving) in the Army Air Corps during World War II. By the end of this year, we'll be the smallest force we've ever been. In 20 years, we haven't grown by one Airman and yet you continue to serve in the best Air Force there is and you continue to accomplish the mission. Be very, very proud of that."

While the chief admitted times are tough and the global situation does present more than just a few concerns, he encouraged the audience to stay focused on the mission and trust Air Force leaders to make the right decisions concerning the well-being of the force.

"Air Force leadership will get at the big things," he said. "As individuals, we watch the news and get all wound up -- we're just inundated by information but continue to do what you do every day. Our nation expects that of us. Do what you need to do and keep us informed on what you need to do what you do."

The Air Force will definitely continue doing more with less, the chief said, but Air Force cost-saving programs such as Every Dollar Counts are still in full swing, and every Airman's idea to reduce Defense Department spending is welcome, Cody said.

"We're looking to each and every Airman to help us reduce costs," he said. "We've got a lot going on and nothing is slowing down."

The chief spent much of the all call addressing upcoming changes to Airmen's enlisted performance reports.

"Everyone thinks they're inflated," he said. "Yours isn't, but you think the (EPR of the) Airman sitting next you is. You're perfectly happy with what you get; you're just not happy with what everyone else is getting."

Cody said the current system is often inflated and about 80 percent of enlisted Airmen get the top score of five.

"When everyone gets a five, when every Airman is rated the same, that's effectively a zero," he said. "If everyone is getting the same thing, it holds no value and doesn't influence the institution."

To stem this inflation, a new feedback form, the Airman Comprehensive Assessment, will be used. Soon, and more than ever before, feedback will carry the most weight when considering an Airman's potential for promotion.

"You'll never get better with an EPR," he said. "You'll get better with someone sitting down with you, telling you what you need to do. Moving forward in a very positive way, you're going to hear some things about yourself (from your supervisor and commander) you don't want to hear, but you need to hear."

He told the audience that an Airman's performance, as noted on the ACA, will be the leading factor in determining their promotion potential. Time-in-grade and time-in-service will no longer carry the promotion weight it once did, the chief said.

"(Time-in-service and time-in-grade) doesn't necessarily mean experience," he said. "Experience atrophies after about two years. The current system doesn't reward performance. It's a system that says you'll get promoted if you stick around long enough."

Cody ended by thanking the audience on behalf of Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, who visited the Academy Sept. 29 - Oct. 3.

"We're very aware of all that you and your families do on behalf of this great nation," he said. "We know the Air Force is in good hands and we're continually impressed by how amazing and selfless you are."

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