Question and answer with Chief McKinley

Robins Air Force Base Ga. -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Rodney J. McKinley recently visited Robins Air Force Base. While here, he took a moment to share some thoughts and goals.

Question: What do you hope to accomplish as Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force?
Answer: I am not so concerned with a personal legacy. My goal is to go out there everyday and do the best job I possibly can to take care of our Airmen and their families. I also want to do whatever I can to ensure that we properly organize, train and equip our Airmen for war and to make sure we are doing our part in helping them return home safely."

Q: How important for Airmen is education?
A: I would like to help our enlisted force increase their education level. More of our Airmen should be getting their Community College of the Air Force degrees -- and getting them sooner. Another part I can play in educating our Airmen and the American public while I am on the road is in spreading our Warrior Ethos. We are a warrior Air Force, and we are at war. We start teaching Airmen the ethos in basic training, and we want to see this process continued on through technical schools and into future assignments.

Q: Why should we develop an appreciation of Air Force heritage?
A: Our enlisted heritage is something we should all be very proud of. I would like to see an increased awareness of our enlisted heritage throughout the Air Force. Wouldn't it be outstanding to see art depicting a squadron's heritage on display when walking through a dormitory or squadron? I would like to see us focus on the heritage within our units so Airmen better understand their unit mission and heritage."

Q: Is enhancing Airman pride important?
A: Airman Pride is important to me, as it should be to all Airmen. Marines are proud, and are referred to as a Marine for life. We are Airmen, and we are Airmen for life too. At basic training, during field training day, we have an Airmen's coin ceremony where Airmen are presented an Airman's coin for the first time. From that day on, we call them Airmen. Air Force wide, I would like us all to use the term 'Airman' anytime we refer to other Airmen. Airmen are not 'kids,' not 'troops' - they are Airmen. Airmen pride is also about pride in our Airman appearance, fitness and how we represent our Air Force."

Q: Is the Air Force adopting an Airman Creed?
A: We are developing an Airmen's Creed for all Airmen CEO's -- civilian, enlisted, and officers - a creed we all know by heart and can be proud of. This creed will be something to help guide our actions. Presently, we have about 15 to 20 creeds in the Air Force. However, no one seems to have any ownership of these creeds. I've traveled around the Air Force, and our Airmen can't quote or recite these creeds. I'm looking forward to having one creed across the Air Force, a creed we can all identify with and be proud of."

Q: Your thoughts on tending to wounded Airmen...
A: We are at war, and with war we have wounded warriors. We are caring for our wounded Airmen, but need to remain ever vigilant to ensure our Air Force warriors receive the quality care they deserve. We already have a great program in place to care for our wounded Airmen -- it's called PALACE HART. PALACE HART cares for our Airmen with combat-related injuries - from their point of injury, into recovery and rehabilitation, and will even follow them into a post-separation period if need be. So whether their injuries are physical, or emotional, as with those of PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder), we are committed to taking care of their needs. We will continue down this path of caring for our wounded and their families."

Q: If you could personally deliver a message to every Airman at Robins what would that message be?
A: You should be proud to wear the uniform of the United States Air Force. America is at war and the nation needs its Airmen warriors to defend the nation's security and interests. This is an extraordinary time to be serving our Air Force, and every Airman wearing the uniform today -- active-duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard -- should be able to look back and say 'When my country was at war - I did my best.'"

Q: How would you encourage Airmen as the Air Force continues its force shaping efforts?
A: Our Airmen, as well as everyone in America, needs to understand we have to modernize and recapitalize the Air Force. The average age of our aircraft is 24 years. That's just too old. We have to modernize our equipment and in many cases that means we have to make some tough decisions. Some of those tough decisions mean we have to trim our Air Force end strength to become smaller. We are going to do this smart, and so we'll continue with targeted force-shaping efforts. However, if every Airman can't continue to serve with our Air Force, they should always be proud of their service to our nation."