Chief's View: Reflections from a memorable first year

  • Published
  • By By Chief Master Sgt. Ericka Kelly
  • Command Chief Master Sergeant, Air Force Reserve Command
Reflecting on my first year as the command chief and the newly named senior enlisted advisor to the chief of the Air Force Reserve, I feel honored to represent the more than 56,000 Reserve enlisted Airmen who continue to support global operations. The Air Force Reserve could not accomplish the mission without you.

I want to share some highlights of the past year and the many positive changes within the Air Force Reserve.

Last year, I set a goal to do three things: preserve our heritage, develop and build Airmen, and shape future enlisted leaders. It is hard to change a culture. My desire, instead, was to mold it — making it a transparent environment for all enlisted members. My hope was to ensure all enlisted are aware of the many opportunities available for them to grow in their careers. My intent was to build relationships, clearly communicate and be accessible to our enlisted Airmen.

Our heritage, as Reservists, means our strategic forces are ready at any given moment for the next no-notice call-up. I have briefed at congressional hearings, general officer forums, state of the Air Force briefings, and major command-level conferences as your enlisted representative, sharing with national and civic leaders the dedication of our enlisted members to remain ready at all times under heavy operational demands.

You have done a phenomenal job as we ask you to do this with shrinking and unpredictable budgets. You always impress! As we grow in space, cyber, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, it is essential for us to stay relevant to the Air Force.

We will continue to align our growth with active-duty Air Force requirements. You are all part of this progress.

Developing and building our Airmen is critical to the growth of the Air Force Reserve. I have been privileged to serve on 18 enlisted developmental boards and eight chief panels. I’ve visited 10 Reserve units and all three Reserve numbered air forces.

These events gave me the opportunity to get to know you on a more personal level, allowing me to gain meaningful feedback from the field.

I was also able to share the many opportunities available to our Airmen, such as applying for the educational and developmental boards, the Stripes for Excellence Program, and the new Command Chief Screening Board process. I will continue to look for ways to build and develop the enlisted force. Much of my effort has been to shape our Reserve enlisted members into leaders for tomorrow’s Air Force Reserve.

One of the most rewarding things for me has been attending seven Yellow Ribbon events. I connected with and encouraged Airmen, their parents, spouses, children, siblings and relatives. I spent time with the people who worried about, “Are we going to be OK? Is my deployed spouse/child/sibling going to be OK?” I was able to build relationships with Airmen and their families. These relationships ultimately shape our enlisted as we lead by example.

Last year, I promised to concentrate on mentoring and giving Airmen an understanding of their part in the overall mission. One of my continuing top priorities is to empower enlisted members and give them opportunities and options to further develop as leaders.

During the coming year, I ask you to focus on revitalizing squadrons, caring for Airmen, and continuing to develop Airmen and their careers.

Our strength in the Air Force Reserve is our resounding dedication to service and perseverance toward excellence in everything we do. Let’s ensure each and every Airman has the opportunity and knowledge to achieve brilliance. And, of course, always enjoy the journey you are on right now!