Former Chief Master Sergeants of the Air Force discuss great power competition, future force during AFDW-hosted event

  • Published
  • By Jasmyne Ferber
  • Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs

Four of the previous Chief Master Sergeants of the Air Force participated in a Senior Enlisted Statesmen visit hosted by the Air Force District of Washington on March 7.

Former Chief Master Sergeants of the Air Force Eric Benken, Fredrick Finch, Gerald Murray and Rodney McKinley were welcomed by AFDW commander Maj. Gen. Daniel DeVoe and Command Chief Master Sgt. Charmaine Kelley at the start of the day-long event, which coincided with the change of responsibility ceremony for the 20th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force David A. Flosi.

The former CMSAFs received briefings on the future state of the Air Force, the current intelligence landscape, and the great power competition. They ended the day with a panel discussion with students from the CMSAF Donald L. Harlow Airmen Leadership School on Joint Base Andrews.

“What you’re doing today meeting the Airmen, we need some of that. We need that connection with how we’ve gotten here with the larger family, with the experience, more so now than in the past,” DeVoe said. “The fact that they see that you still participate and serve, that matters.”

During the panel, students asked questions related to the former chiefs’ time in service, the biggest challenges they faced during their careers, and how Airmen can better embrace changes in the mission, and in the world at large.

With near-peer competition vying to become a world power, McKinley theorized the Air Force will undergo its biggest change since 1992, when the department realigned its major commands.

“And with that brings change to each and every one of you,” McKinley said. “I think it’s an exciting time to be in the Air Force to see this change coming and what it’s going to mean for our country. Because if we don’t change and we remain static the way we are right now, we’re in trouble.”

When asked if they had any advice to give to Airmen serving as supervisors to the next generation, Murray encouraged them to look themselves in the mirror and ask, “what do I stand for? What motivates me? What motivates them?”

“Because it starts with you,” Murray said. “If you take that approach and you understand the dynamics of all that, it’s all done by people and people working together collectively, then you’ll be a great supervisor, you’ll be a great leader, and you’ll continue to be able to make a difference in your organization as it grows.”

In closing, McKinley stressed the important role Airmen play in carrying out the Air Force’s mission.

“Be the best at your job because Air Force leadership truly cares about you and needs you, not wants you, but needs you to be successful,” he said.