CMSAF visits Airmen, stresses importance of USAFE mission

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa Public Affairs
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody and his wife, retired Chief Master Sgt. Athena Cody, met with Airmen from bases around U.S. Air Forces in Europe during visits, Jan. 25-31, to thank them and their families for their service, and to discuss the future of USAFE.

Cody specifically chose to visit Airmen at eight bases throughout Europe that have a small footprint but provide an important capability to USAFE and its mission partners.

"We do have a lot of bigger bases in Europe," Cody said, "but the smaller units have great Airmen performing extremely important missions for our country and partners."

The importance of these missions remains crucial to the effectiveness of USAFE's “Forward, Ready, Now” posture, according to Cody.

"This theater remains as important today as it ever has," Cody said. "We have a long standing commitment to our partners here and NATO. We have the smallest Air Force in our history but we are more globally engaged as a country than ever before. If we are going to accomplish anything, we are going to have to do that with our partners, globally."

Because of that commitment, the Air Force has had to make tough decisions in many regards, which ultimately led to the decision to divest multiple bases in the U.K. over the next seven years. The biggest of those bases is Royal Air Force Mildenhall, home to nearly 4,000 U.S Airmen and local civilians.

"Everyone loves Mildenhall," Cody said. "I understand the emotional connection to the base and the relationships with the local community. But at the end of the day, we can do the missions that we need to do out of other locations in a more efficient and effective way."

Cody emphasized that the reasoning behind these decisions was strategically and financially driven.

"We don't have excess Airmen in our Air Force," Cody said. "We have had a long standing relationship in this theater. It spans seven decades. We continue to place Airmen in strategic places so airpower can be projected globally. It is critical to our national security and the security of our partners."

He also added that the decision will not affect mission capabilities.

"When you think about the overall capability in Europe, it's not going to change in anyway,” he continued. “But by doing this consolidation we are going to save approximately $500 million every year. I think everyone in our Air Force and our partners will agree that given the limited resources, we cannot afford not to do this."

As the Air Force goes through changes, Cody said that it is important to remain resilient. Airmen are encouraged to adopt and internalize the four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness: physical, mental, social and spiritual.

"When you think about programs like RUfit, the real essence is how we are communicating the resources that we have to bolster resiliency within our Air Force community," Cody said.

Cody said that ultimately it's about genuinely knowing your Airmen because they are our most valuable resource.

"These pillars are all aspects of every human being's life, and if you don't know your people in any of those aspects you're not really going to know where they are,” Cody said. “If they are struggling with one of those areas and we are not helping them, there is a great potential for failure.

"The basis, however, for all successes in our mission, rests with the professional development of our enlisted force," Cody said. "To get an idea of where our enlisted force is headed, all we have to do is look to our history.

"It takes every generation of Airmen to continue to build on the previous generation," Cody said. "We will be a better force in 10 or 15 years, just like I would tell you we are a better force today than we were 10-15 years ago. Whether it be innovation, how we professionally develop the or how we recognize and document performance. These are all important to becoming a better force. There has always been a commitment to that and if you look at how far we have come, it is a great predictor of how far we will go."

Cody closed by reminding the Airmen of USAFE that what they do will have a lasting effect on the mission and the future of the U.S. presence in Europe.

"Athena and I couldn't be more appreciative of you all," Cody said. "Anytime we have an opportunity, to address our Airmen, we want them to hear that directly from us. We are certainly in dynamic times in our military. If you look at the instability globally or the mission changes within your own backyard, that fact is evident. But it's important to know that our Airman and their families are our number one priority."