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AFA convention features command chiefs forum

by Staff Sgt. Monique Randolph
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

9/25/2007 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Rodney J. McKinley and command chiefs from five Air Force major commands joined to answer Airmen's questions during a forum at the Air Force Association's 2007 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition here Sept. 24.

The forum provided Airmen in attendance the opportunity to communicate directly with the chiefs about issues of concern to the enlisted force.

Chief McKinley opened the forum with introductions of each command chief and acknowledgements of special guests in the audience, and then opened the floor to questions.

The first topic of discussion involved senior enlisted leadership communication within the joint environment.

Each chief stressed the importance of frequent and open communication with senior enlisted leadership from the sister services.

"What we do today in the joint environment is so much better because we communicate and spend more time in the fight together," said Chief Master Sgt. Jonathan E. Hake, Air Force Materiel Command's command chief master sergeant. He challenged Airmen operating in joint environments to "educate the Soldiers, Sailors and Marines on the capabilities the Air Force brings to bear," stating that Airmen also play a vital part in making others aware of the Air Force mission.

Another topic discussed was the inclusion of physical fitness test results on the new enlisted performance reports.

"It really bothers me that we still have people in our Air Force who don't see the benefit of being physically fit, and documenting it on our performance reports is long overdue," said Chief Master Sgt. Gary G. Coleman, the U.S. Air Forces in Europe command chief master sergeant. "When our nation calls upon us to fight for and defend this country at a moment's notice, we have to be fit. The thing that sets us apart from our civilian counterparts is our health and conditioning, and the fact that we're disciplined, trained warriors who carry out our particular skill sets."

"Beyond the requirements of the Air Force, at the end of the long duty day, fitness gives you the energy and stamina to enjoy time with those who matter the most to you," Chief Hake added. "Don't do it so you have a pass mark on your EPR, but rather, so you have the energy and stamina to enjoy life as an Airman and as a family member."

A topic of particular interest to the audience was the release of enlisted promotion results virtually. Once the process is implemented, commanders and first sergeants will no longer receive promotion results before their Airmen, and results instead will be released on the Web on the official release date.

In the beginning, many senior enlisted members were concerned about the change to Air Force tradition, Chief McKinley said. However, the system was not working the way it was designed to, and often times Airmen were not notified of promotion by their commanders first, he said.

"We have the (virtual) system worked out, and we're going to do a test run to ensure that it works," he said. "In the end, there is still the opportunity and the responsibility for commanders and leaders to recognize those who are promoted."

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