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Chief McKinley visits Robins, discusses Air Force priorities

by Kendahl Johnson
78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

10/19/2007 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFPN) -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Rodney J. McKinley traveled to Robins Air Force Base Oct. 11 and spoke with Airmen throughout the base.

Chief McKinley met with several base units and told enlisted Airmen that the Air Force has a vision and that includes helping Airmen be better prepared to win the war on terrorism.

"The most important thing on our agenda is to make sure we properly organize, train and equip our Airmen to go and do whatever the Air Force tasks them to do for our nation," he said.

The chief said he expects the war on terrorism is going to last for many years and having highly trained Airmen who are prepared to continue the fight is top priority.

"We've got to stay vigilant and keep on fighting the war on terrorism effectively," Chief McKinley said. "However, it's not just about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's a global war on terrorism because we have terrorists all around the globe who daily think of ways they can get in here and change our way of life.

"I don't think in three to five years we're just going to be able to say we're done -- terrorism is over," Chief McKinley said. "This is something we're going to be fighting for a long time. This effort takes support from taxpayers, support from Congress, and support from our government to make sure our military is strong enough to win this war on terrorism."

The second priority for the Air Force is developing and caring for Airmen and their families, he said. Chief McKinley stressed the importance of recruiting strong, young men and women, then developing them immediately through education and training.

"We do a very good job of giving our Airmen solid training, developing them and their technical skills for their job," Chief McKinley said. "We work hard to ensure we are properly taking care of them and their families."

Chief McKinley said the Air Force's professional military education programs are outstanding in developing the Airmen and preparing them to do their jobs.

"That goes from Airman leadership school to NCO academies to senior NCO academies to the chief's leadership course and several other courses we have in between to make sure we develop our Airmen throughout their career," he said.

The third priority for the Air Force is recapitalization and modernization of air, space and cyberspace systems.

"We need to develop and recapitalize our Air Force," Chief McKinley said. "Right now, we have the oldest aircraft in our inventory that we've ever had. Our aircraft average around 24 years of age and that is just too old.

"Our No. 1 priority for recapitalization modernization for our Air Force is to replace the aging tanker fleet," he continued. "The No. 2 priority in recapitalization is to develop and buy a new combat search and rescue helicopter. The No. 3 priority is to replace all space assets we have because the equipment we have in orbit right now is old. The No. 4 priority is to get the new Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35, on board to replace our aging F-16 (Fighting Falcons), and our fifth priority is to develop a new long-range strike bomber."

Those who heard the chief speak appreciated his comments.

"I thought it was an outstanding visit," said Tech. Sgt. Daniel Pacheco, a flight instructor at the Robins AFB NCO Academy. "It was great to see a senior leader take the time out of his busy schedule to visit us. It says a lot about Chief McKinley."

Tech. Sgt. Janna Wesley said she also was impressed with the chief.

"Everyone was excited that Chief McKinley was here," she said. "And they were surprised at how down to earth he is. His responses to questions were real -- not the typical Air Force responses you'd expect from a senior enlisted leader."

The chief said he is proud of all the Airmen who volunteer to serve their country.

"It's truly an incredible honor to meet incredible Airmen and their families all over the world," he said. "Our Air Force is accomplishing amazing missions and our Airmen are the ones who make it happen."

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