Military News

Thursday, November 19, 2015

ACC command chief visits SJAFB

by Senior Airman Aaron J. Jenne
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/17/2015 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Chief Master Sgt. Steve McDonald, Air Combat Command command chief, visited the 4th Fighter Wing, Nov. 11-13 at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.

McDonald visited several agencies during his stay, including the 4th Operations Support Squadron air traffic control tower, 4th Security Forces Squadron shoot house, and the 4th Civil Engineer Squadron explosives ordnance disposal range.

He also conducted several briefings and a wing-wide all-call where he discussed and answered questions regarding changes affecting the Air Force.

"Thank you for the opportunity to come out here," McDonald said. "On behalf of Gen. [Hawk] Carlisle [ACC commander] and myself, I just want to say thank you for what you do. You don't hear it enough, and we don't say it enough. Thank you for serving in the United States Air Force, the world's greatest air force."

During his visit, McDonald responded to questions regarding changes to the promotions, enlisted evaluations and proposed changes to military retirement plans. He again addressed these concerns at the all-call, basing his message around the three points Carlisle stated when he assumed command of ACC: winning today's fight, resiliency and responsibility.

"I hope you understand your role in winning today's fight," McDonald said. "The capability you provide helps us do what we need to do to win today's fight. It's pretty simple; every person that is in this wing, regardless of what you do - comptrollers, contractors, maintenance, operations, medical - it doesn't matter, you have a significant role in that mission. You all have an important mission to do. If it wasn't important, we wouldn't pay you to do it."

He went on to say winning today's fight relies directly on the health of individual Airmen as well as the force as a whole.

ACC's approach to instilling Airmen resilience is following the Comprehensive Airman Fitness program, which teaches the importance of mental, physical, spiritual and social resilience. The program encourages balance among all four areas to enhance well-rounded, stable Airmen.

Regarding resilience, McDonald discussed the alarming trend in military suicide rates, asking the audience why so much effort and training regarding resilience isn't having a more visible impact.

"Is there a magic answer?" McDonald asked. "No, I don't think there is, but is there a magic question? I think that question is: 'What is it that will get you through the worst possible day you could ever face in life?' I think that's a question we should all ask ourselves."

He asked the audience how they would respond to terrible news, injury or losing a loved one.

"These things happen," McDonald continued. "That's just part of life, and it happens all the time. What is it that, when the day turns really dark, will tell me it's worth waking up tomorrow? I've got my answer, not necessarily your answer, but I think we've got to come up with something. You've got to have an answer before you need it."

With that said, McDonald transitioned to the third point: responsibility.

He said he views responsibility on the same page as respect and if people have respect for the people around them, they will act responsibly. The two go hand-in-hand.

McDonald said that after 30 years of service, generational gaps in communication processing sometimes create difficulties between Airmen and supervisors. He urged everyone to bridge this gap to improve cohesiveness and promote respect to win today's fight.

"The last time any American [service member] was killed by an enemy air attack was back in the 50's, because we have owned the skies since then," McDonald said. "We own the skies because of you and because of what you do on a daily basis. I hope every one of you understands your importance to the mission of the United States Air Force. I think it's pretty easy to understand how important that mission is to national security of the United States."

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