OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. —
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright, joined by six of the previous Chief Master Sergeants of the Air Force, participated in the 2018 Senior Enlisted Statesman Forum Sept. 6 on Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
The forum, the first of its kind since Wright’s tenure began, was an opportunity to discuss the future of the Air Force focusing on policy, training and resilience.
“I updated them on the current enlisted programs we have, ranging from enlisted Professional Military Education to promotions to policy updates, and some potential changes like bereavement leave and fitness,” Wright said. “I admire, respect and look up to them and I wanted to spend some time with the folks whose shoulders I stand upon.”
Although many strides have been made over the years in realms such as technology, Wright said there is an overlap in the hurdles he faces today to those faced in the past. The forum was a means for him to receive instant feedback and gain perspective and knowledge from the prior Chief Master Sergeants of the Air Force.
“They are very experienced,” Wright said. “They have lived the same life in various eras, so it was really good to hear from them and their perspective. I was able to glean some knowledge and mentorship about how they handled things during their time in the seat. I think the value of having mentors, period, is extremely important.”
Wright’s predecessors, although retired, still play a huge role in developing Airmen. Many still engage frequently with Airmen at venues such as Professional Military Education schoolhouses, making it vital for them to be up-to-date on program innovations.
“The former Chief Master Sergeants of the Air Force are still tremendously involved in our Air Force,” Wright said. “They continue to do speaking engagements at graduations, banquets, and professional enhancement seminars, so I wanted to make sure they are kept up-to-date on what we are doing and we are in sync in terms of messaging.”
While the attendees may have benefited from the forum, Wright said he wants the real beneficiaries to be the 295,000 enlisted Airmen across the service. His focus is on growing those numbers and retaining the talent already in house.
“I think the enlisted force will benefit in that I will take the advice, guidance and mentorship I received and continue to make all the enlisted programs better,” Wright said. “We will continue to do things we have been doing to help our enlisted Airmen become more lethal, ready and resilient and better led.”
Although no day is set for the next forum, Wright said he hopes to continue open dialogue with the retired chiefs.
“I think we will do this once a year,” Wright said. “We get other opportunities to meet, just not as focused as what we did yesterday, so we agreed that we would like to come together like this. It was really good to do it here because Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force number six, James McCoy, lives here.”
Overall, Wright felt the forum was productive and he said he is excited to take what he learned and apply it.
“It was a pleasure to be here,” Wright said. “I want to thank all of Team Offutt for their great hospitality. It was an extremely successful event that further increased my admiration for the former Chief Master Sergeants of the Air Force.”