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    AFCENT top chief to airmen: You are the best thing to happen to the AF

    TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan -- The top enlisted leader at U.S. Air Forces Central Command visited to talk with Airmen here Feb 20, 2014.

    The top enlisted leader at U.S. Air Forces Central Command visited to talk with Airmen here Feb 20, 2014.

    "I want the airmen to know that they are cared about," said Chief Master Sgt. Shelina Frey, AFCENT Command Chief. "[Lt.] Gen. [John] Hesterman said to let them know we love them, we want them to take care of themselves and their families. We appreciate them for what they are doing out there, for being deployed during the holidays and for being the amazing airmen they are."

    Instead of a tour of the base, Frey used her time to visit multiple units here to find out how each airman is feeling and ensure they were up-to-date with current trends and issues in the Air Force, like force management.

    "I heard another chief was coming to visit us, so we met up in the back shop to listen, I expected it to be just another speech," said Airman 1st Class Tonni Upchurch, 376th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintenance technician, who is deployed from MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., and a native of Tallassee, Ala. "I was surprised! She was great to listen to and helped explain a lot of what's going on. I liked how personable she was. It was more like a conversation with a friend and she helped me realize that my career in the Air Force is what I make of it."

    Since her last visit here, multiple sleeping quarters, recreation areas and a dining facility have been shut down and disassembled at the transient area called Hotel Alaska. One of the last tents are scheduled to be destroyed March 1, 2014, by a controlled fire to allow firefighters a training opportunity. AF members Raze Hotel Alaska

    "This is probably my seventh time here," said Frey. "I was used to seeing thousands of people: airmen, sailors, soldiers and Marines, walking around, either exited to finally be able to go home, or ... not sure about what they are about to embark upon in the [area of responsibility]. So now, I've only seen a couple hundred people, mostly airmen and soldiers, taking tents down. What made it real for me (the Transit Center closing) was seeing a sergeant walk across the street with a drill in one hand and a roll of duct tape in the other - that's real; we're leaving."

    Frey had nothing but great things to say about the effort the airmen are putting into ensuring a smooth transition from the Transit Center.

    "The Airmen here are doing incredible work; it's just awe inspiring to see what they have been able to do together," said Frey, a native of New Orleans, La. "I know some airmen feel the Air Force is the best thing to happen to them. But really, it's the other way around; Airmen are the best thing to happen to our Air Force."

    Frey also talked about force management.

    "Our Air Force is going through force management and having to make some tough decisions; we're not kicking people out of the Air Force, we have to make a business decision," she said. "So, on top of asking our airmen to help defend our nation, we're going to have to ask some of them to leave our Air Force.
    Force management programs necessary despite budget deal

    "I want them to understand that it's not personal," she continued. "We want them to make the best choice for themselves and their families. We are going to help them the best we can and make sure that our Airmen are able to make informed decisions."
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    Date Taken: 02.20.2014
    Date Posted: 02.22.2014 04:03
    Story ID: 120999
    Location: MANAS, KG 
    Hometown: NEW ORLEANS, LA, US

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