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,
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
"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
"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
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."