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AETC Chiefs' Orientation Course preps selectees for top enlisted rank

Command Chief Master Sgt. James Cody, Air Education and Training Command, discusses enlisted performance reports during the Chief Orientation Course at the Parr O'Club, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 26. Seventy-three new chiefs from AETC and other commands attended the four-day course. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Clinton Atkins)

Command Chief Master Sgt. James Cody, Air Education and Training Command, discusses enlisted performance reports during the Chief Orientation Course at the Parr O'Club, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 26. Seventy-three new chiefs from AETC and other commands attended the four-day course. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Clinton Atkins)

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE -- Air Education and Training Command held a Chiefs' Orientation Course here for 73 new and soon-to-be chief master sergeants from across AETC and other commands Jan. 24-27.

The new chiefs met with senior leaders, who clearly defined what is expected of the men and women who wear the Air Force's top enlisted rank.

On the first day, AETC Commander Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., who set the tone for the duration of the course, said chiefs must be "all in...all the time."

"This course is extremely valuable for the new chiefs. It brings them up to speed on the next level of expectations with regards to the institutional competencies and what we as an Air Force believe they need to know to be successful not only as chiefs, but for our Airmen and mission to be successful," Chief Master Sgt. James Cody said. As AETC's command chief master sergeant, Cody is responsible for the professional development of the command's enlisted Airmen.

"Each chief is now moving on to a different position in their Air Force career," he said. "It's a much broader expectation. To better help prepare them for what is expected, we feel it's important that we bring them together and spend some time with them, ensuring they start this journey as a chief master sergeant on the right foot."

This year, AETC and all the major commands incorporated institutional competencies into the course as a result of the cancelation of the Chief Master Sergeant Leadership Course at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. Thirty of the teaching points from the Maxwell course are now being taught at the Chiefs' Orientation Course for the first time.

Many of the chief selectees, if not all, said they walked away from the course with a profound learning experience they plan to carry with them throughout their careers.

"The most important thing I've learned from this course is that because we make chief does not mean we're the absolute experts," said Senior Master Sgt. Russell Robinson, a chief select. "We must be humble and grow as a chief and utilize our expert knowledge we've gained over the course of our careers. We must mentor and sponsor the folks that come behind us to grow them into positions in order to take our place."

Robinson, who works at the Air Force Personnel Center here, said this is probably one of the best orientation-type courses he's attended in his career and highlighted the course's importance with one word - "priceless."

For Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Hoyt, 19th Air Force, the course was a motivation and he looks forward to earning the title of chief.

"I want to do right by the Airmen and I want to do right by the Air Force," he said. "I want to be someone who will be called chief even after I retire."

After spending a week with 73 of the Air Force's newest chiefs, the AETC command chief said he is confident the Air Force and its Airmen are in good hands.

"When you walk away from spending a week with men and women of their caliber, it gives you a great sense of, 'hey, our Air Force got it right'," he said. "They're energized, they're focused and they're looking forward to this opportunity to be chiefs in our Air Force and to continue to make a difference."
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