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Chief’s View: Our Enlisted Team

Chief Master Sgt. Cameron B. Kirksey

Chief Master Sgt. Cameron B. Kirksey

Citizen Airman/Oct. 2015 -- The beginning of the fiscal year is a good time to look back at where we have been as a force and where we are going. Like General Jackson, I have about a year left in the seat, and I am committed to ensuring our Air Force Reserve remains a strong and viable force. My goal is to do my part to build the future force and develop our enlisted team as we move forward over the next 12 months.

Our enlisted members are the backbone of our Air Force Reserve and will remain as such in the future. To stay viable and relevant, we need to ensure we are recruiting the right Airmen and providing them the support they need to be successful.

Historically, when the Air Force Reserve recruited brand-new Airmen, we had a lower retention rate than the active component. Attrition rates for our first-term Airmen during basic military training and technical school training were higher than they should have been because we didn't have a good support system in place to help these new recruits succeed. Hence, the AFR created the Development and Training Flight, designed to provide training and guidance for these new Citizen Airmen and help them transition from civilian to military life.

My goal as chief is to continue to develop and support this program as we move forward. Our Development and Training Flight has increased our retention rates and, more importantly, has helped our Citizen Airmen connect with other Airmen in their wings and start their Air Force Reserve careers on the right foot. This program allows us to provide our young Airmen the training and support they need to successfully navigate basic training and tech school. This enables us to begin building our force from day one.

We are also going to continue to focus on ways to develop our enlisted force. Both General Jackson and I are firm supporters of offering continued development opportunities for our enlisted force.

Professional development courses and career progression opportunities are essential to helping us groom our senior enlisted leaders. By providing opportunities for our Citizen Airmen to pursue professional and personal development, we strengthen our contribution to the total force team.

I need your continued help to institutionalize the new enlisted evaluation system to include the Airman comprehensive assessment program, aka performance feedback, and the new enlisted performance report process. We know both of these initiatives are going to help us identify high performers and provide critical feedback to our Airmen at every level. These systems provide a fantastic feedback mechanism to ensure meaningful and purposeful dialogue between supervisors and Airmen.

Supervisors, I challenge you to take the time to have the tough conversations and be willing to provide mentoring moments when appropriate. Through continued feedback and honest communication, we can increase the effectiveness of our force.

As I look forward to the next year, I am excited to continue on the path we have charted. We are moving forward as a professional and dedicated force, and I couldn't be more proud of the men and women I have met during my unit visits. Take the time to develop yourself and the team and help us build the force we need for the future. Remember, I'm here for you!