News: AFCENT command chief visits JBB Airmen
Story by Senior Airman Tong Duong
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - U.S. Air Forces Central's senior enlisted advisor, Chief Master Sgt. Robert A. Parsons, visited with Airmen here Jan. 7.
An advisor to AFCENT commander Lt. Gen. Mike Hostage, Chief Parsons is circulating the area of operations getting to know Airmen, their missions and what he can do to help.
"First off, it's all about representing you and what you do to General Hostage and his staff," Chief Parsons said about his visit. "My job is to know and influence the policies and procedures he develops and puts out."
The chief praised the work his predecessor, Chief Master Sgt. Mark Villella, and the "amazing job" done for airmen to reduce their frustrations, but said he can't do his job if he does not know the issues.
"I can't [help you] if you don't talk to me," the chief said during an all-call at Sustainer Theater. "I can't go back and influence anything or may go about it in the wrong way. So you have to talk to me, be honest and forthcoming about what you are facing."
He described his job using an analogy of a whip.
"The person using that whip, cracking it and making the mission happen, may look at the handle every once in a while, and the leather handle is holding up great. So what does he do? He keeps cracking that whip.
"But the problem is the whip falls apart at the end, near the tassels," he said. "If you don't pay attention to the end, next thing you know it has unraveled halfway down the whip and things are falling apart. That's how I see my job, to get out and check the end of the whip and see if it's heading in right directions."
Chief Parsons, who is Ranger qualified and has deployed eight times in support of ground operations, reminded airmen the roles they play are important.
"I spent a large portion of my time [in support of] the Army and a couple times with Marines. I can tell you hands down that they want air power every time and they want more of it," the Bronze Star with Valor recipient said. "Now they want [forward air controllers] in every squad. They want it because air power is effective.
"That doesn't just happen, it happened on the backs of people like you. People that ensure we have secured areas to operate from, or are out there turning wrenches and making things fly at incredible rates."
Chief Parsons told airmen they are doing amazing things and collectively contribute to more than just the wing mission.
"What you are doing is critical, not just to the mission, but so people make it home to see their sons and daughters," the Macon, Ga., native said. "There is somebody out there in the middle of nowhere, facing the enemy, and one thing that's going to ensure they get back home is air power."
Before ending his all-call with JBB airmen, the chief told them they are making history and should step back and take it all in.
"Pioneers rarely see the fruits of their labor," he said. "As we pioneer through new heights, set new standards and break records...take the time and write down the amazing things you see happening, chew on it a little bit and get to really understand it, because it is really amazing the stuff going on out here."
Chief Parsons continued his tour of JBB, meeting with airmen from each group across the wing before returning to the forward deployed AFCENT headquarters.