By Tech. Sgt. Randy Redman
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. (AFNS) — Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy addressed a capacity crowd of Airmen and civilians at the Langley Theater on Jan. 11, and covered a wide variety of key Air Force issues.
Roy spoke on topics such as training, force management programs and how the current budget will affect operations, and took questions from Airmen on promotion, mentorship, retirement and commissioning programs.
“Hopefully you’ve all had a chance to hear the new defense strategy. If you haven’t, I would challenge you to go and read it,” said Roy, offering his support for the president’s recent announcement that the military will refocus its efforts on the Asia-Pacific region and cyber warfare.
Roy said there are many changes coming to how the military operates at home and abroad, and how most of these changes are driven by the current budget constraints facing the entire nation, including the $487 billion cut to Defense spending over the next 10 years.
“Will that change the way we operate? You bet it will, but I like the way the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General (Norton) Schwartz, says it, ‘You’ve got to understand that we are a $100 billion Air Force, and we are the best Air Force there is.’”
As always, Roy said his highest priority is taking care of the men and women who serve in the greatest Air Force the world has ever known.
“What I’m concerned about is what education, training and experiences would be taken away from you. I’ve got to make sure we continue to develop you in such a way that you are prepared for the future,” Roy said.
Because of the current financial issues facing the Air Force, Roy said only 45 percent of the budget for travel for Enlisted Professional Military Education is currently funded. Additionally, Col. Stewart Price, Air Education and Training’s Barnes Center commander, recently announced that travel for senior leaders to attend EPME graduations for their personnel has been permanently suspended. These changes are only the beginning of how EPME will transform in the coming years.
“One of the things that we are trying to do is what I call EPME Next. You will hear more about that soon, but what I will tell you is that we are trying to make sure that you continue to get what I call the core,” said Roy, referring to basic training and technical schools. He said those are the foundation of our culture, and what enables us to achieve monumental success on a daily basis.
“If you are working on the flightline on the F-22 (Raptor), the most modern aircraft we have in the inventory today, and you have not been to tech school and learned the fundamentals of maintaining that thing, do you think we are going to get the same level of expertise? I don’t think so. So we’ve got to hold onto that core,” said Roy.
On a lighter note, Roy said training opportunities for EPME have been recently designated internationally.
“We have now opened up a couple of schools across the globe that we accept as equivalent courses to our NCO Academy, and particularly our Senior NCO Academy,” said Roy, dropping hints at potential opportunities in Canada, South America, Singapore, New Zealand and Africa.
In addition to these initiatives, Roy said the Air Force is making sure it is taking care of its people.
“We realize that we are still at war; there are people being shot at and people being blown up, and we need to make sure that you and your family are resilient,” said Roy. “I clap my hands every time I mention it, because it was really ACC that started Comprehensive Airman Fitness.”
CAF, which was spearheaded by Gen. William M. Fraser III, the former ACC commander, is a program that focuses on four pillars of wellness.
“Being fit to fight means more than just being physically fit,” Fraser said. “With all of the demands on our Airmen and their families, psychological and emotional health are just as important to our overall fitness, and to our readiness as a command.”
Roy said there are plenty of Airmen who are affecting battle space around the globe from their home station. When they get off work and have to take care of their day-to-day responsibilities, like mowing the lawn or changing diapers, those Airmen face mental challenges none of the other services endure.
“There are quite a few ways that manifests itself… we’ve had seven suicides already this year,” Roy said. “What do I say about that? Know yourself, but be a good wingman. It’s not just a one-on-one approach. If you see somebody struggling, go to them and help them. That’s being a good wingman.”
In addition to the all-call, Roy had breakfast with enlisted Airmen of all ranks, held a meeting with Langley’s Top 3. He also discussed current issues affecting Security Forces and Equal Opportunity before heading back to Joint Base Andrews, Md.