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AMC orientation enlightens, informs command's newest chiefs

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, ILL. -- Eighty-two new and future Air Mobility Command chief master sergeants visited Scott AFB recently to participate in the command's annual Chief Master Sergeant Orientation.

The conference gives AMC's newest chiefs an overview of the command's mission and discuss command and Air Force issues affecting today's top enlisted grade.

The three-day conference was chock full of information and events, including more than a dozen briefings, including AMC and Tanker Airlift Control Center mission briefings; professional development and enlisted training updates; and a variety of guest speakers, including AMC Commander Gen. John Handy and two former chief master sergeants of the Air Force.

AMC Command Chief Master Sgt. Michael R. Kerver said the conference provided the command's new chiefs "an opportunity to further understand their role as senior leaders in this Air Force, get current on AMC policies and programs, and establish their network with the same chiefs they'll work with on daily basis executing our airlift mission."

The chief said he hopes the attendees gained a deeper appreciation of the significant role they play as senior leaders and their responsibility in the development of the Air Force's junior enlisted corps.

"We worked hard to instill the feeling that these new chiefs should never forget where they came from, or what it took to get there," said Chief Kerver. "Their leadership, good or bad, will be reflected in the force, and in the end, the real reason chiefs exist is to make a difference in our people, programs, and how our mission is executed."

Senior Master Sgt. Diane Foote from Travis AFB, Calif., said the Enlisted Force Development and chief assignments briefings were especially interesting.

"[After hearing the force development briefing], I can tell the Air Force is taking a good hard look at our enlisted folks and what our service can do to develop them," said Sergeant Foote. "Enlisted force development has worked well for us in the past; however, as the Air Force changes, we need to adapt and prepare our folks for the future. We're heading in the right direction."

Senior Master Sgt. Allen Kelly, the NCO in charge of the 41st Aircraft Maintenance Unit at Pope AFB, S.C., said all aspects of chief's orientation were superb.

"I was impressed with the entire event," said Sergeant Kelly. "When I first arrived at the orientation, I honestly didn't think I would get a lot from the experience."

By the end of day three, Sergeant Kelly said he was asking for more. "I was really surprised at just how useful the orientation was," added the future E-9.

Sergeant Kelly said he does have one complaint: he said the briefers were so good, he wished he had more time to spend with each of them.

He said he especially enjoyed the chief's panel, where each attendee was given an opportunity to talk with a panel of three current AMC command chief master sergeants. The panelists were: Chief Master Sgt. Roger Ball, 305th Air Mobility Wing, McGuire AFB, N.J.; Chief Master Sgt. Ronald Hernandez, 62nd Airlift Wing, McChord AFB, Wash.; and Chief Master Sgt. Terry Speer, Fairchild AFB, Wash.

"We were basically allowed to talk to the chiefs about anything we had on our mind, from what to expect as a new chief master sergeant, to how we should carry ourselves, what we should look out for, and other everyday advice. That's the kind of stuff you can't get from a book. It comes from personal experience," added Sergeant Kelly.

He said he also enjoyed listening to retired Chief Master Sgts. Of the Air Force Paul Airey (first CMSAF) and Sam Parish (eighth CMSAF).

"It's always a joy to talk with them and hear what they have to say," explained Sergeant Kelly. "They've been around and seen it all, and they're not afraid to speak their mind. They tell it how it is. They tell you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear."

Chief Kerver agreed that the opportunity to hear Chief Airey and Chief Parish speak was especially enlightening.

"We were fortunate to have [Chief Airey and Chief Parish] share over two hours with this audience," added Chief Kerver. "They offered their perspectives on the top enlisted grade and some of the history behind where we've been and how we got to where we are today."

In addition to the attendance of two former CMSAFs, Chief Kerver said he felt other highlights of this year's orientation were a deep concern for the enlisted force, the transformation of that force, and how the Air Force trains and deploys within the Air and Space Expeditionary Force constraint.

Chief Kerver said he hopes the orientation was as valuable to the attendees as his chief's orientation was to him more than seven years ago. Chief Kerver said his orientation into the Air Force's top grade is something he will never forget.

"I attended the U.S. Air Forces in Europe orientation in November 1996, facilitated by Chief Master Sgt. Eric Benken, the future CMSAF No. 12. It was an eye-opening experience and it was invaluable to hear what was expected of me as an Air Force chief master sergeant," Chief Kerver said.

The chief said the networking he accomplished during that USAFE orientation seven years ago was invaluable.

"I still stay in touch with six or seven chiefs from that orientation," explained Chief Kerver. "Their friendship and counsel has been deeply appreciated over the years."