FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md., November 14, 2013 (AFNS) – Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody shared his perspective on the past, present and future of the Air Force with Airmen, Air Force civilians and their families Nov. 12, during a worldwide CHIEFchat session at the headquarters of the Defense Media Activity here.
Reduction in force and readiness in the light of continued budgetary constraints were at the center of attention as the 17th chief master sergeant of the Air Force addressed a live studio audience and others joining the discussion via social media and video messages.
Airmen via social media asked the chief to share his vision of the Air Force in the next decades. Cody answered that while he could not have predicted the development of the Air Force in his 29 years of service, leaders will continue to plan for the demands of an uncertain future.
“Whatever our nation requires us to do in the future,” he said. “I’m extremely confident that we will be an extremely capable Air Force, capable of doing what our nation needs us to do.”
Cody then took a video message from Aviano Air Base, Italy, asking whether increased workload and additional duties could decrease Airmen’s focus on core tasks. Cody acknowledged that impacts of fiscal limitations will be felt throughout the ranks, but said he remains confident in the effectiveness and professionalism of Airmen.
“I absolutely don’t think Airmen will lose focus of their primary duties,” Cody said. “Our Airmen know what their job is; they’re very focused on it and perform their duties exceptionally well.”
Cody also highlighted the value of face-to-face communications in the electronic age. While social media allows for messages to be related quickly, Cody encouraged Airmen to maintain personal connections.
“We run a great risk when we rely too heavily on social media,” he said. “It does concern me when we are losing the human connection as Airmen. I think we have to find a balance, and that balance is how do we remain connected with each other … and at the same time take advantage of all the tools that are out there to keep Airmen and their families informed.”
Airman 1st Class Miles Wilson, a public affairs student with the Defense Information School here, said he appreciated the chief’s direct approach to communication.
“Hearing from somebody in his position helps me see what’s going on in the Air Force at large,” Wilson said. “The chief has nearly three decades of experience. He has seen a lot happen and hearing his perspective was very useful.”
Later in his talk, Cody opened the floor for questions from Airmen, who used the opportunity to question their service’s top enlisted leader about the potential impact of budget cuts to Air Force families. Citing unprecedented growth of benefits and entitlements in the last decade, Cody said cutbacks will have to be expected.
“We are trying to work through that,” he said. “The end result is we’re going to have to reduce the size of the force — to a significant degree, potentially,” he said. “With that, we’re going to have to make sure our Airmen understand that our people are still our No. 1 asset. But we’re going to have to adjust.”
Cody took a question from the web dealing with sexual assault, and made it clear that prevention is the responsibility of every Airman.
“We should all be extremely outraged that this crime takes place in our Air Force,” he said. “The only way to fully get after this is that we all understand that it is a problem and we all take responsibility for preventing it in the future.”
Cody mentioned the successful implementation of special victims counsels, which provide expedited and personalized victim advocacy and support to victims of sexual assault. Air Force leaders, he said, are committed to increase understanding of victim needs and are working with military and civilian experts to improve recovery and long-term care in the future.
“One victim is too many and because of that we will continue working on this,” the chief said. “Ultimately, we will care for the victim to the best of our ability and will absolutely hold those that commit these crimes to the highest degree of accountability.”
The final question focused on the chief’s tips to Airmen on making the Air Force a career. Besides the steady pursuit of excellence, Cody said that owning the mission is essential.
“Even as our Air Force is getting smaller, we still have a lot of Airmen in our Air Force,” he continued. “What we really want is a lot of Air Force in all our Airmen. And if you think of the Air Force and yourself as one, your whole perspective changes.”
CHIEFchat is a recurring initiative, designed to give Airmen around the world a direct connection to the chief master sergeant of the Air Force. Watch the full-length talk here. Airmen can join the conversation with the chief master sergeant of the Air Force by following him on Facebook.