Chief Master Sergeant of AF visits Robins Airmen: Chief McKinley gives advice, forecasts future of Air Force

  • Published
  • By Amanda Creel
  • 78th ABW/PA
For more than 45 Robins Airmen, Thursday's lunch menu included the opportunity to rub elbows with Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Rodney J. McKinley.

Chief McKinley recognized eight Airmen during the Feb. 22 luncheon for their efforts on behalf of the Air Force.

Senior Airmen Jiarzen Chang was stunned when Chief McKinley called her name. "It's a memorable experience. If anyone asks me my most memorable experience while I was at Robins, I have one now. It tops all the others," said Airman Chang, of the 78th Medical Group.

Senior Airman Kristal Lee said she was still nervous after the luncheon adjourned and said she really appreciated the opportunity to meet the Chief, not to mention being recognized in front of her peers.

Airmen Lee said she went to the luncheon after completing a 12-hour-shift at the 78th Air Base Wing Command Post. She said no matter how tired she was, it was worth the extra effort to hear him speak.

"I think he touched on everything important and a lot of things all the Airmen were looking forward to hearing," Airman Lee said.

Chief McKinley offered Airmen in attendance a preview of some of the Air Force's future initiatives and offered some advice to Airmen as they continue to serve their country.

"I'm proud to be in the Air Force," he said. "I'm proud to be serving with each of you. As I look around Robins Air Force Base I can see you are doing a fantastic job."

Along with speaking at the luncheon, Chief McKinley also spoke with Airmen Friday at an Airmen's Call.

Throughout his visit, the Chief highlighted the top three Air Force priorities.

The first priority is winning the war on terror, he said. "We are fighting an enemy that will not give up, so we are going to do this as an away game," Chief McKinley said. "We are going to take the fight to the enemy and not let them attack us in our homeland."

After stressing the importance of winning the war on terror, Chief McKinley said the war could not be won without the contributions of every Airman.

"A puzzle may have 1,000 small pieces. But to have a complete puzzle you need them all," Chief McKinley said. "One piece may be the job you do, but without it, the puzzle is incomplete."

The second priority, developing and caring for Airmen and their families, is accomplished by providing a high quality of life. He then shared with the Airmen the list he presented to Congress as his top four quality of life priorities.

First, he said he wants to continue to care for wounded Airmen and their families.

"We are a nation at war and when we are at war the most important thing we can do is take care of our wounded," Chief McKinley said.

Second on his agenda is providing quality childcare and the third is to provide quality housing to both accompanied and unaccompanied Airmen.

"Privatization is the wave of the future and will provide great housing for our Airmen and their families," he said.

His fourth goal is to minimize negative permanent change of station effects on Air Force families, such as the inability to transfer high school credits from state-to-state, family members not receiving in-state college tuition or spouses making career sacrifices during PCS moves.

"Our families should not be penalized when we PCS because we are serving our country," Chief McKinley said.

The chief went on to say that the third priority of the Air Force is recapitalization and modernization.

"We are defending our skies and protecting America's freedom in aircraft that averages 24 years of age -- this cannot continue," he said. Additionally, updates need to be made to other aging equipment and to satellites utilized by Air Force Space Command, he said.

He also highlighted some of the upcoming changes, such as the extension of basic training from six and a half weeks to eight and a half weeks.

"We develop a Warrior Ethos in basic training and need to carry the ethos throughout the rest of our Air Force career," Chief McKinley said.

He said the extended time also provides the opportunity for Airmen to learn lifesaving skills so Airmen have the knowledge and training to save lives.

Another upcoming change is the implementation of the Air Battle Uniform. A big change with the ABU is the addition of women's sizes to the clothing racks and women's boot sizes, rather than women having to buy men's sizes. He added changes are also being looked at for the Air Force physical training gear and service dress uniform.

A decoration has also been added for Airmen who are involved in combat operations, the Air Combat Action Medal and Ribbon, which will be diagonal stripes in red and gold, and will be worn on the service dress.

"When you wear it (Combat Action Medal) on your blues it will be easily identifiable," he said.

Other areas the Air Force is looking at improving include examining whether all computer based training required is necessary and reevaluating the more than 1,900 additional duties the Air Force presently assigns, the Chief said.

"We need to find ways to eliminate the amount of time that is spent away from their jobs and their ability to lead and supervise their Airmen," he said.

Chief McKinley ended by thanking all the Robins Airmen and their families for all they do for our Air Force and our nation.