News: Chief master sergeant of Air Force visits the VTANG
Story by Senior Airman Victoria Greenia
SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. - Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody visited with airmen of the Vermont Air National Guard Sept. 5 to 6 to say thank you for their service and listen to questions and concerns.
Discussion topics ranged from the tightening military budget, Total Force Integration and the changing Air Force approach to military professional development.
One common topic was how to maintain air superiority in a time of budget cuts. As military leaders have begun to meticulously comb through procedures and programs to remove non-priority elements and trim essential programs, money-saving initiatives have been the impetus of change. One such change is Total Force Integration, where active-duty and National Guard airmen work together on the same installation.
According to Cody, Air Force, Air Guard, Air Reserve, and our civilian components are all one, each with unique assets and capabilities.
“The strength of our Air Force is how all of our components come together. Total Force Integration brings active airmen to Guard bases to learn through [Guard members’] extensive experience. This has been a force multiplier for us.”
Cody also said that leadership was carefully considering which missions are best suited to the different components, playing to each group’s strength.
Airmen also asked about new standards that require senior master sergeants and chief master sergeants to hold an associate’s degree from the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF). This has left some airmen who already hold a bachelor degree wondering why they need a second one from the Air Force.
He explained as a technical military service, the expectation is for each airman to become an effective leader with expertise in their field. The point of a CCAF degree, he said, was to help ensure senior enlisted airman had further education in their specific career fields.
Changes are also on the way for Enlisted Professional Military Education programs such as Airman Leadership and NCO schools. Cody referred to the initiative as “blended learning.”
Currently, active-duty airmen typically take the course in residence at schools while guardsmen have the additional option of completing the course at home. The distance-learning course saves the Air Force money but essential leadership skills are learned best face to face. The solution: A marriage where airmen complete online courses at home, then go in-residence for a shorter time period.
Cody also discussed the evolution of the Air Force culture and the impact that has on all airmen.
“There’s always going to be a level of commitment an airman is going to have to put in during and outside duty hours,” he acknowledged.
It won’t be easy, he said. But he has faith in leadership to take care of its airmen and the airmen to take care of the mission.