The Experience of 1st Air Force Command Chief

MADISON, Wis. -- First off, I would like to say it's great to be back in Wisconsin! I know that doesn't sound right to some, glad to be back in the cold after eight months at Tyndall AFB in the Florida panhandle, but I truly missed the cold weather, the unit and my family. Florida is not for me, but the job was an experience I will never forget and a learning experience that has not only benefited me, but also the 115 FW.

Before I get too deep into my notes, I need to take a few moments and thank Chief Schmeisser for the incredible job he did in my absence. With him filling in, there was never a worry on my part about our enlisted force being represented to our commanders. He is an incredible Airman and to step up and take this on shows his dedication to all of you. Please take the time to thank him yourself when you see him.

During my time as the 1st Air Force Command Chief, I had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout our country and visit with many different ANG, AF, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Canadian units which really proved to me that the 115th is one of the best. We hear that all the time and sometimes it's easy to think it's just talk, but I have now seen it firsthand and can tell you that we are among the elite. I have sat in on meetings and seen where others have fallen behind, yet when the slides go up for the Generals to see, the 115th is always at the top and trust me - they take notice. I also didn't realize how many of our members are out there advising and making decisions ANG-wide until I started to meet up with them. I'm sure most of you know someone and NGB, 1AF, the Pentagon or other national level assignment. Put them all together and the 115th is truly having an impact on our nation's military decision making. This all reflects on each and every one of you, and if you didn't have the commitment to allow your subordinates to develop the skills and knowledge, or if you weren't ready to take up the slack for your supervisors as they worked at these levels, none of it could happen.

One of the keys to us making a difference is the development of our Airmen at all levels. We are committed to creating these future leaders, we (by "we" I mean all of us at every level) encourage in-residence PME for both enlisted and officers, we partake of opportunities such as the state enlisted leadership training, and more recently our own enlisted leadership development course developed by our Top 3. Our satellite NCO Academy course appears poised to take off in March, our numbers of applicants to in-residence NCOA and SNCOA have never been higher, our enlisted and top 3 council involvement is growing each month and our membership numbers in our professional organizations continue to climb. All of this is key to remaining viable as a unit, and continuing to grow as new missions are created. We are, and will remain, a leader in the eyes of the ANG and AF as long as we continue on this path and not become complacent. Everyone needs to be thinking of ways to keep us on track, we need to be deliberately developing a pool of Airmen to replace us someday, getting creative to ensure our subordinates have the opportunity for PME, deployments, and other leadership positions regardless of rank or pay status. Agree or disagree with the concept, this is the bottom line to what makes us stand out from the crowd and keeps us advancing professionally and ensures the future success of the 115th.

One last note I'd like to pass on. Through my travels I have heard many times our active component peers state how they can't tell someone's status when we work together. I hear frequently how we are just as good as the active duty, yet what we really are is better. We need them to notice us, notice our extensive experience level, notice how a drill status guardsman with a civilian employer possibly in a career completely unrelated to what they do here can shift gears and perform as well as or better than the rest. That's all a reflection on the training received, training provided, the professional development opportunities you create and shows the 115th does is the best!

Thank you everyone for what you do every day, I have no doubt that this will continue to be one of the best wings in our Air Force, and it's all because of you.
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