CMSAF talks vision, priorities at Seymour Johnson

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brittain Crolley
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody and his wife, retired Chief Master Sgt. Athena Cody, wrapped up a two-day visit here, Oct. 10.

The Air Force's top enlisted leader paid visits to several units throughout the 4th Fighter Wing as well as the base's Reserve component, the 916th Air Refueling Wing.

Cody discussed force management, professional military education, the enlisted evaluation and promotion system and the challenges ahead for the Air Force.

Cody said Airmen in every wing have been impacted by force management programs, but it's important to remember these Airmen are still a part of the Air Force.

"Those Airmen are still here, sitting and working next to you," he said. "They're valuable parts of our teams, they're important people, and they deserve our respect and support. We should do everything we can for them until the very last day they're allowed to wear the uniform. We owe them that."

Cody also shed light on the Air Force's current professional military education philosophies.

"If you don't invest in education, you're not developing the right type of Airmen over time," Cody said. "What we're seeing right now, especially on the enlisted side, is a move toward blended learning for professional military education. All the top educational institutions around the world use blended learning because it's proven as a better method of educating. It's both learner-centric and instructor-centric. Whether it's a brick and mortar learning environment or an online learning environment, both offer unique and significant benefits. We can raise the education level of all Airmen via distance learning as well as in-residence opportunities."

Cody touched on the frequently referenced suggestion of doing more with less; a challenge Cody says the Air Force must meet head on with hard work and dedication.

"The American people expect us to work hard," he said. "At the end of the day, you likely should be tired because you've worked hard. When we're talking about doing more with less, I think what we're really talking about is work-life balance. We're always going to work hard, and that's what our nation expects. Doing more with less is our badge of honor. We have an incredible asset of innovative Airmen. Doing more with less; that's what innovative Airmen do. How can I do it better? How can I do it faster? How can I save resources? You should be asking yourself those questions every day."

A current topic trending among most of the enlisted ranks is the new enlisted evaluation and promotion system. Cody highlighted the changes and provided his vision for the freshly minted program going forward.

"This is huge," Cody said. "This is the biggest change in the enlisted evaluation system since its inception. Everything is changing. The most important thing that has happened for each and every one of you is the Airman Comprehensive Assessment. I know you're very interested and excited about the new EPR and how that affects WAPS. You're excited about it because you know it impacts your career."

The chief also stressed meaningful, purposeful feedback is going to help Airmen understand what the expectations are of them and where they show potential.

"We want you to sit down and have a conversation built on respect and trust; a professional relationship where you can get to know that person and help them achieve their goals and clearly communicate what the expectations are," he said. "That's how you get better; that's how you reach your full potential."

Cody closed out his day-one all call by bringing the current state of the Air Force in sharp historical focus.

"The 4th Fighter Wing has a rich history," he said. "It's always inspiring and motivating for me when you connect with that history and you think about the legacy of those that came before us--those giants and those heroes -- all the things they did so we could sit here today.

"Never in the history of our country have we been more globally engaged. We're experiencing the longest sustained combat operations in the history of our country. Never has our country been engaged in combat longer than those men and women who serve in uniform today. And this is the first time this has ever been done in history with an all-volunteer force. That's your legacy. The giants and heroes of our Air Force are in this room, the fellow women and men that you serve with, supported by amazing families that are willing to go through this with us."

The chief's visit was punctuated by a trip to the 4th Security Forces Squadron's shoot house where he donned full battle gear and experienced a tactical operation first-hand.

"We showed the chief what we do both at home and deployed," said Staff Sgt. Justin Hovis of the 4th SFS. "We got him geared up, we took some fire, returned some fire, and cleared a few facilities, and the chief led us in the clearing of a few of the rooms. He did a great job staying with the team, keeping up with it. He was moving fast."

Cody said the 4th SFS did a phenomenal job setting up the training.

"It was a great experience," Cody said. "I really appreciated the opportunity to go into the shoot house with our defenders and experience how they maintain their edge."