Chief chat is a program theme at Air Force, on which people can ask questions about the issues about Air Force and army that they care about, this is the edition of February 2015.
Welcome to this edition of chief chat with Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, James Cody. Chief chat is a chance for airmen working all across the world to have a direct connection to the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force by asking questions about the issues they care about.
Today we’ve got a variety of questions for the chief coming from all over the world ranging from cyber threats to compensation to the master sergeant evaluation board, with all the materials that our airmen want to know.
Our first question has to do with education benefits. Education is a key driving force for many US citizens when they make decisions to join the military with the many cuts in other areas of the DOD. There will be a discussion on the potential reductions and other educational programs provided by the Air Force, what cutbacks will there be to the education benefits of current and future air force members and what possible improvements are being considered.
This comes up a lot obviously. We’ve been reeling over this topic specifically since we went into sequestration, when we had to suspend ta and it’s important that we used the right word, we didn’t cut it, we suspended it for the period of time that we had to by law. I mean we went into sequestration. We couldn’t spend money that we didn’t have appropriated but we would fund it so I think it’s important that all of our airmen should have a full appreciation, recognize how much we value education as much as the men and women.
There are at least three reasons for joining military and it has always been the case. We understand it’s a force multiplier, so we’ve ensured that our airmen are utilizing tuition assistance at the right times in their career, instead of having conflict with other priorities. Our Air Force has upgrade training or a professional military education, so as to make sure that we’re not pursuing multiple degrees in areas.
In addition, you know the Department of Defense put some requirements in tuition assistance and consistent with, what most universities doing that was minimum grades for undergraduate and graduate degree programs to be have that tuition assistance reimburse, so there’s no lack of commitment by the Air Force to continue to press forward to make sure there is funding available for tuition assistance and our community college of the air force is still seeking for opportunities for our airmen.
There is an opportunity available to them. There are always discussions about everything than the budget but there are no specific discussions going on right now about anything to do with tuition assistance or our educational benefits from within the department. I mean a lot of people have seen some references about the commission’s report on military retirement and compensation.
There are some recommendations here. When you talk about the post 911 GI build, those are recommendations that have been provided back to the service. We’re analyzing that right now, within the services the Department of Defense will make a recommendation back to the president and then Congress will act on all of that but that’s not a specific service initiative in any shape or form.
Our next question is I’m a first-class super-dee with united states air force on our apt. This year we are seeing a one-percent pay raise and bah drop in some areas. Can you give us your take on why some airmen are seeing a drop in compensation?
The reality is that we have not cut anything and we’ve been trying to articulate that,. Along the way we have clearly had to go forward within the budgets, within this significantly fiscally constrained environment and slow the growth in certain areas.
There are cuts within the budget certainly within programs in our services. But when it comes to payments and benefits, not a cut a slowing of growth is what has been proposed in the budget, that’s what a one-percent pay raises versus a her number.
Taking away money would be a cut, slowing the growth is what we’ve had to do and it’s been a challenging time within the department of defense. In this environment, it is required to continue to sustain this all-volunteer force and make sure that compensation paying benefits are reasonable. I think it’s important that we understand since between 2001 and 2012 our payments and benefits have increased for about forty percent. I think everybody can appreciate we can’t sustain that kind of growth.
There is a no shape or form to imply or insinuate, that every bit of the payments and benefits that our airmen and their families receive today are not entitled to and have-nots aren’t they have and we are in the right place. But in that coming years and the current status that wearing with this fiscal environment, we have to slow the growth.
So you’re not all of a sudden going to buy into something and we’re going to reduce it next year and you don’t have enough until you move and go to a new location, where might have a new rate. It might have been less, I mean might have been more at a different time for other people, yours doesn’t change.
On average, this year everybody’s bh were ways and this is an aggregate about seventeen dollars a month about a half percent, which is the aggregate some people always see and you always have, even when we weren’t talking about any type of slowing a growth within bh. We do a validation all the time of the housing costs in aries and the that’s how the bh fluctuates over time. Sometimes it increases and sometimes it decreases. It is just based on the average cost of living, quarters the housing in the area that you live in.
Let’s switch gears here for just a moment and talk about some of our younger airmen. My question to you sir was the new standards changing nowadays at the Air Force-a higher level of standards and expectations. As senior airman and new NCOs, How do we reach the new generation of airmen coming into the air force? What is your advice, sir?
We’ve always held ourselves to high standards. I don’t believe we’re elevating the standards any higher than we’ve always really had. The country expects us to live to those high standards but I do think we’re evolving as we have consistently evolved over time and our expectations are remeron constantly increase. Because our airmen are more capable and we make more investment to our airmen. They bring more to the table, from the day they step into this uniform, there are more capable person than they were.
When I came in more than 30 years ago, I think we have to acknowledge that and that goes to the point of the question. I think it’s important that we continue to evolve like everything else. Vols are not stuck in this idea, this is the way we’ve done it for 30 years and the way it’s going to work best.
With the young men and women coming in our Air Force today and I think what we’re learning over time and they’re teaching us that you got to acknowledge them in a different way. Maybe we acknowledge the people that stepped up to serve before so we’re not lessening standards for anybody. We’re going to hold ourselves to the highest of standards, because the country holds us to the ISO standards.
But how we leverage, acknowledge and appreciate the value of the young men and women that come in to serve and their families has to change, evolve? I think they bring a lot of skills to the table, they have greater capacities than generations before, because the society is producing young men and women with greater capacities.
It’s about giving them the respect that they’re due treating him in the right way, acknowledging what they bring to the table and building them up from that point, and you will feel it. Our Air Force will continue to make even greater achievements.
But I think that’s our frontline supervisors and all our leaders and RF was have to take a step back, understand that each person is an individual, that they’re part of this greater team.
Instead of trying to fight that, they have to adapt this military lifestyle, adhere to our Air Force or values and live up to what it means to serve. But this idea that we don’t appreciate for them for who they are and what they bring to the table, we’re not leveraging their real capability.
So, I think it’s about relationships. I think you got to know what’s important to them, where their strengths are, where their weaknesses are, what their goals are in their services and in their lives. If you do that in a real way and they know you care about them, we’ll get through all these challenges.
Our next question is from the senior Airman and he wants to know about cybersecurity. With the increasing cyber threats, do you think the Air Force is prepared to defend against future cyber threats that may come our way? Do you foresee any officer programs for enlisted personnel to become a cyber officer?
The cyber domain is constantly evolving and trying to be on the front side. That curve is extremely challenging. When you think about how many people are into that domain, every single one of us in this room has the ability to operate in that domain, so it’s challenging for us but I do think we are prepared and becoming more and more prepared to be on the front side of that to respond to any threats that exist out there to ensure that we have the ability to operate in that domain in cases when necessary.
You know in dominating with potential adversaries, we’ve done a lot in our Air Force, specifically we stood up to one Bravo for career field, for our list of books cyber operators, very specifically trained, to operate within this domain. For our Air Force, we’re not talking about any specific programs. In order to become cyber officers, we’re going to train the enlisted cadre that we need, so there’s definitely a lot of opportunity in the cyber world.
Speaking of cyber, let’s go to a social media question. Someone on Facebook asks about the promotion boards. What are the factors and Xbox tations of the master sergeant evaluation?
so this continually comes up as a question and we’re happy to answer it because we’re getting close, I mean this board is coming up here this spring and I know our tech sergeants are anxious about it, if I can reassure them in any way I’ll do it again the same way.
We haven’t added anything into what was required, we expected our airmen to work hard, do the very best and we’re going to acknowledge that by looking at their records and making sure we get the order right.
I say it in that way because I want to be clear that we are not going to a master sergeant promotion board, we do know by going to a board process that the order will be different. We’ve done the test and we validated it. It gives us an opportunity to ensure that we’ve looked at the entire record or had the ability to look at the entire record for superior sustained performance and it’s important for us. When we go back to that point, I made about evolution.
We’re buying and using the same process, so it’s about moving forward and making sure we use a process that clearly gives the institution the ability to discern people and guarantee we get the order. But initially in this transition, it’s important that everybody knows that there has been nothing added.
We just expected you to do the best you can and will acknowledge that to a board process and everybody’s going through it.Meanwhile, it is going to be fair and equitable. They’ve got 108 day epr because we know if we give them 12 more days, something significant might present. It will make sure that nobody’s disadvantaged and we will take care all that so everybody walks in on a level playing field.
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