JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Pacific Air Forces hosted an orientation course for chief master sergeant selects here, April 12 - 16.
The course further sharpened the leadership skills and defined expectations for Chief selects by covering a wide range of leadership topics and guest speakers with experience from a multitude of functional areas and career fields.
“The entire force looks to the ‘Chief’ for information, wisdom, and guidance,” said Chief Master Sgt. Katie McCool, Fifth Air Force command chief. “Every person selected for promotion is ready for the beginning of their Chief journey but success in the future, like any other rank, requires deliberate development. This course is starting point for that development.”
The course also provided seasoned Chiefs the opportunity to share their knowledge with new Chiefs in an environment where everyone was welcomed as a peer. As each Chief select is projected to move forward to a broader Air Force position, the open discussion enabled Chiefs to prepare for expectations from commanders, Airmen, and the mission they will experience.
“What made you successful as a Senior will not make you successful as a Chief,” said Chief Master Sgt. Philip Hudson, Seventh Air Force command chief. “Focusing on continued growth as a leader is the key to transitioning into the top 1 percent. The most important takeaway from this course is: building genuine relationships with fellow Chiefs is how the Air Force family operates.”
Chief orientation courses build camaraderie and networks of professionals. They also inform new Chiefs of resources and methodologies for operating as an effective asset for their respective commander.
“The orientation course helps prepare the Chief selects to lead all Airmen, including those outside their functional areas,” said Chief Master Sgt. Laura Puza, PACAF command paralegal manager. “Leading all Airmen to succeed, will help us in any environment to fly, fight, and win and ensure air dominance and airpower anytime, anywhere.”
Congress established the rank of chief master sergeant in 1958, and the pay grade encompasses the top 1 percent of the enlisted force. The Air Force promoted 1,700 Airmen in 1959 who possessed highly sought-after leadership skills needed to lead Air Force organizations.
“The Chief-selects are energized and focused because they understand the responsibility and expectations they are charged to perform,” Puza said. “There is no ‘new chief’ rank. A chief is a chief; no matter if the member has had the stripe on one day or four years, the expectations are the same. The chiefs know this and understand they are ‘the chief’ in their organization and took advantage of the shared experiences learned during the Chief Orientation Course.”
The chief selects have demonstrated a continued record of excellence, exemplified a high level of leadership potential, and have proven that they possess the professional qualities needed to be a chief. From the moment they sew on their new rank, Airmen will call them “Chief.”
“Serving as a chief master sergeant in our Air Force is a privilege,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. David Wolfe, PACAF command chief. “One percent of the Air Force are chief master sergeants, which means you are charged to serve the other 99 percent. It’s a huge accomplishment to get here, but a larger task of responsibility lies directly ahead as you prepare to lead in a complex environment.”
Overall, the orientation course helped the next generation of chiefs understand and dissect past successes and failures through stories and interactive discussions.
“In the face of COVID, there is more pressure now than ever to make sure the men and women of your units are trained, equipped and ready to execute your mission as required,” Wolfe said. “Take this opportunity to share your knowledge within this peer environment … interact with each other, share your philosophies and experiences. Pay it forward and remember to take care of your people and their families.”