by Staff Sgt. Rachelle Blake
55th Wing Public Affairs
3/16/2015 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Airmen were not short on questions this week during the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force's visit to Offutt Air Force base.
It was clear, serving in the Air Force with an ever-changing environment
has created challenges, but for its highest ranking enlisted Airman,
those obstacles are his priority.
"We are currently the smallest Air Force in the history of the Air
Force, yet we are more globally engaged today than ever before," said
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody. "We are in the longest
sustained combat operations in the history of our country and for the
first time ever we are doing that with an all professional volunteer
force ... It is my job to represent you and help influence and shape the
things that are important to our Air Force."
The 55th Wing is no stranger to the combat environment. Its assets and
Airmen have been deployed non-stop for nearly 25 years, and according to
Cody, the wing will not see a significant decrease anytime in the near
"The idea that as we reduce the footprint on the ground in Afghanistan,
there would be a measurable reduction in the operations tempo is not
really the reality," Cody said. "That region has been extremely critical
to us and is going to remain critical. To have our Intelligence,
Surveillance and Reconnaissance assets and Airmen engaged there is
essential for the security of our nation and our partners."
Because of the wing's prominent ISR mission, it was recently
transitioned from 12th Air Force to the newly established 25th Air
Force, which was previously the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and
"The effort there was to align ISR resources for our combat air forces
and provide a level of synergy within an organizational structure," said
Cody. "All the feedback we have received thus far says we met the
objective very quickly as a result."
Team Offutt's Airmen were also interested to hear about big picture Air
Force issues such as the uncertainty Airmen may be feeling over the
future of their benefits. Cody addressed how budget constraints have had
a huge impact.
"We are the best compensated military we have ever been," he said.
"Everything our Airmen and families receive today, they have earned. But
the idea that we will be able to continue on the rate of growth is not
sustainable. We do not want to reduce or cut anything, but we have to be
realistic. It can't continue to grow at the same rate it has and remain
There have also been many recent changes to the enlisted performance report with a larger focus on "performance."
"First and foremost, the American people expect us to perform our
mission," Cody said. "So it has to be the first thing we do and the
first thing we are good at, that is why we have prioritized it that way.
In no way, shape or form in the profession of arms, are we walking away
from the whole person concept. But it is not first; it is after people
are doing their job well."
In recent years, the Air Force has also seen a huge push for education
in resiliency with the implementation of quarterly Comprehensive Airmen
Fitness days. CAF focuses on sustaining four pillars of fitness which
are mental, physical, social and spiritual wellbeing.
"We are trying to be very deliberate about reinforcing the information
and approaching this in the manner that we are, so Airmen realize that
what they are going through in their military service is not necessarily
unique to them," Cody said. "Many Airmen and families have gone through
it before and there are resources to help them through this. We want to
have a very strong resilient force because the nation needs us to be
strong and resilient."
Cody added that by focusing on CAF and providing periodic training, over
time, the culture and environment will change and it will become second
As for the environment at Offutt, Cody was impressed by the Airmen within the wing and tenant units.
"We have had the great opportunity to chat with some really motivated
Airmen who are really proud of what they do and are extremely
knowledgeable," Cody said. "It seems pretty clear to me they understand
how their mission connects to what we are doing in our Air Force. You
could really see that pride."