By Staff Sgt. Jacob Barreiro
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The leaders and members of Team Little Rock hosted the Air Education and Training Command commander and command chief here Aug. 10 – 12, as they toured the 314th Airlift Wing.
Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr. along with Chief Master Sgt. James A. Cody, held an all-call at the base theater, where the commander expressed his pleasure with the wing’s accomplishments and operations.
“I know firsthand what kind of professionals you have here and what a professional course of instruction you all are a part of here,” said Rice. “I very much appreciate what you do every day for our Airmen and how much of an impact it has on not only AETC but also the entire Air Force with the quality of the Airmen, officers and enlisted, who come through here.”
The general said he was pleased with the quality of Airmen coming out of AETC, but he stressed service members to not lose focus on their No. 1 priority, which is to produce high quality Airmen ready to accomplish the mission.
“I say that because it is easy to get distracted,” he said. “You can easily get pulled off targethere. Each one of us has a very important job to do, and we can’t be distracted.”
It’s a leader’s duty to ensure their subordinates have the resources to complete the job; and the AETC commander also said luxuries may have to be sacrificed in the future.
“We are always going to have the resources that we must have to do the job,” he said. “What we won’t have in the future is the resources to do some of the things we might like to do.”
While the general stressed the need to accept change in the future and anticipate sacrificing wants for needs, the command chief spoke to Airmen about the importance of staying socially connected to subordinates, peers and leaders.
“We are becoming more socially disconnected as people than we have ever been,” Cody said. “We, as an Air Force family, need to work harder at that. We have to take the time to get to know each other in a way to be connected.”
The chief said people taking the time to reach out and know those around them could mean the difference between success and failure.
“We have to be mission-focused, but if we have people that can’t be focused … and we don’t recognize that because we don’t know enough about them, we’re going to have mission failure.” said the chief.
Spending time with others is the key, said the chief. By taking a little time and talking to their fellow Airmen, face to face, service members can easily catch preventable mishaps early on.
“Our greatest strength sits here in this room: you as individuals.” said the chief. “We need to care about each other as people and not just as a means to an end.”
While the all-call allowed the leaders to communicate their vision to the audience, a question-and-answer session provided them a chance to receive feedback directly from base Airmen. Several questions were asked covering a myriad of challenges the Air Force will be facing in the future.
On rumors in the press concerning changes to the military retirement system, Cody said service members need to keep things in perspective and be keen to distinguish rumors from facts.
“I wouldn’t get too worked up about it because nothing you’ve read so far is official,” Cody said. “There is no official position on this yet. There is lots of discussion on what it looks like in the future. I think we all have to have faith that it’s something that we can live with. It may be different, as things are different today than they were 20 years ago, but that doesn’t mean that it’ll be bad.”
The general added that it is of the utmost concern to the Air Force to duly compensate their volunteer members.
“We have an all volunteer military,” Rice said. “It’s essential to the security of the nation. We are always going to have, in my mind, a total compensation package: pay, leave for 30 days, medical benefits, dental benefits, educational benefits, and yes, a retirement system, and the combination of all that is going to be such that we can attract the quality of people that we have in this room.”
While taking care of service members is the No. 1 priority for the Air Force, one thing that needs to be remembered in the midst of all the upcoming challenges is service before self, said the general. All service members will have to make sacrifices. Yet, in the midst of sacrifices, he stressed that the standard for quality of life won’t change, and neither will the overall goal of the United States Air Force.
“At the end of this we are still going to be the most capable Air Force and the most envied Air Force in the world,” the AETC commander said.