Air National Guard command chief visits 153rd Airlift Wing members, focuses on effective communication

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Leisa Grant
  • 153rd Airlift Wing
Command Chief Master Sergeant of the Air National Guard, James W. Hotaling, visited Airmen at the Wyoming Air National Guard base  Nov. 8 to discuss enlisted issues.

The command chief's first order of business was to hold two consecutive enlisted calls at F.E. Warren Air Force Base. Hotaling discussed three main themes - renewing ANG members' commitments to the profession of arms, maintaining a healthy force and recognizing our Airmen's accomplishments.

"It's critically important that you recognize your Airmen," said Hotaling during the senior enlisted call.

True to his own words, he coined just a handful of Airmen and had a special message for each of them. This resonated especially well with one of the wing's newest members - Airman Basic Skylar Orr, a cyber operator assigned to the 153rd Command and Control Squadron. Orr recently graduated from basic training with honors and returned from his technical training.

He said being recognized and coined was exciting and not anything he expected as an airman basic new to the unit. More importantly it made him proud to serve, he said.

"It was wonderful to represent CACS," said Orr. "When I came back to the unit they were all proud of me. Everyone knows who I am now. That's important," adding that it made him feel compelled to "step up his game."

Speaking of games, Hotaling used a football analogy to remind Airmen that the ANG is no longer a strategic force, but rather, an operational force and is "never going back." He spoke about the changing of helmet-to-helmet rules in recent years and how NFL players had to adapt to these changes. He said Airmen are the players in the new operational ANG and that as our own rules and requirements change the Airmen have to adapt as well.

"The Guard you joined no longer exists," he bluntly told the audience, specifically addressing those who joined the military before Sept. 11, 2001.

While his message was clear and there were no questions about our post-9/11 environment in the ANG, noncommissioned officers in the audience did have questions regarding enlisted grade reviews, military pay, training and other readiness and deployment-related issues.

Hotaling also met with what he called the "spheres of influences" in wings. These were the First Sergeant Council, the Rising Six Council and the Senior NCO Council. In these smaller more intimate settings he was able to address issues specific to the people these groups represent and to hear feedback about the effectiveness and challenges of their individual councils. He intentionally chose to spend more than a quarter of his eight-hour  day with the councils because he said it was the most effective way to essentially reach the most people in the end.

"That's where your leadership is implanted because they're all leaders in there," he said. "Even people who come to Rising Six want to be leaders. "Now you can have a very good targeted discussion with the people who will touch the most Airmen once [I] leave."