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Chief speaks to first term Airmen
Chief Master Sgt. Kenneth Williams, Electronic Systems Center command chief, speaks to Airmen about leadership during the First Term Airman’s Center course on Nov. 16, 2010. The week-long course teaches first-term Airmen at Hanscom about the many base resources available to help them have a successful Air Force career. Airmen attend the class within the first 60 days upon arriving to their first duty section. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rick Berry)
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 AFMC's Hold the Line Campaign
Accountability and face time help us get back to basics

Posted 11/18/2010   Updated 11/18/2010 Email story   Print story

    


Commentary by Chief Master Sgt. Kenneth Williams
Electronic Systems Center Command Chief


11/18/2010 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- In September, Gen. Donald Hoffman, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, launched a new campaign known as 'Hold the Line,' aimed at reinvigorating the command's maintenance of standards, discipline and service culture.

Throughout AFMC, and especially here at Hanscom, one can easily see why basic military activities, customs and traditions could be lost or forgotten, if we're not careful.

The Hanscom workforce is made up of many civilians and contractors, and the military personnel stationed here are predominantly officers, making the enlisted force a minority. Very few bases in our Air Force have this military demographic mix.

Hold the Line, a back to basics approach, is necessary to help fortify a strong Air Force foundation in the maintenance of standards, discipline and service culture. I believe two ways of doing that are through accountability and face-to-face communication with Airmen.

During the 1990s, the Air Force went through an organizational structure change. Many Airmen from the middle tier - senior airmen and junior NCOs - left the service in order to meet force-shaping requirements. As a result, a void was created and, in some cases, we lost our focus on attention to detail when promoting a higher percentage of junior enlisted personnel.

Those Airmen who remained are now our senior NCOs. These are the people that are leading our enlisted force and continuing to answer their nation's call.

While we focus our attention on holding our senior NCOs accountable in leading the enlisted force, the back to basics approach really starts with our most junior Airmen.

At Hanscom, accountability is key. When an Airman arrives on station, I always ask who was there to pick them up or meet them and how did it go.

On the first day of the First Term Airmen Center course (FTAC), the supervisor must drop off the Airman and make sure he or she gets to the right location. At the end of the week, the supervisor is strongly encouraged to attend the culmination, as well as take them to their next location.

During recognition boards and Senior Airman Below-the-Zone Boards, supervisors are asked to accompany the Airmen. After the boards, supervisors are given immediate feedback on how their Airmen can improve their presentation, so when they meet another board, their interview and performance is stronger.

Today, with e-mail and electronic communication as the norm, many times it is easy for a supervisor to miss face-to-face opportunities. Uniform inspections or military formations not only provide face-to-face communication, but also accountability.

The backdrop for all of this, of course, is the Airman's Creed. The creed gives us reasons why we serve. By memorizing the Airman's Creed and internalizing it, it gets us back to the basics.

Hold the Line is a mission imperative. It causes us to pay attention to the things we've overlooked in the past and get back to what the military is built upon.

Hold the Line is not only a theme for this week or this year. It's a theme we should always have. Getting back to basics fortifies a foundation. Many Airmen who come here out of basic training already have a great foundation, but by emphasizing the basics, Airmen make their foundations stronger and carry on a proud heritage, a tradition of honor and a legacy of valor.



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