New NORAD and U.S. NORTHCOM command senior enlisted leader visits 1st Air Force

Smiles were wide all around as the new command senior enlisted leader for Headquarters, NORAD-Northern Command, Sgt. Maj. Paul McKenna, presented his coin for outstanding achievement to Airman 1st Class Hope Parrish, Manpower, Personnel and Services Directorate, during his visit with 1st Air Force enlisted members here May 15.  While here, the senior enlisted leader stressed the critical importance of readiness and said he was most impressed with the professionalism and selfless dedication to mission of the enlisted force here. (Air Force photo by Mary McHale)

The new command senior enlisted leader for Headquarters, NORAD-U.S. Northern Command, Sgt. Maj. Paul McKenna, presents his coin for outstanding achievement to Airman 1st Class Hope Parrish, 1st Air Force Manpower, Personnel and Services Directorate, during his visit with 1st Air Force enlisted members here May 15. Meeting airmen throughout the day in different venues, the senior enlisted leader stressed the critical importance of readiness and said he was most impressed with the professionalism and selfless dedication to mission of the enlisted force here. (Air Force photo by Mary McHale)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Be ready now. Not this afternoon, tomorrow or next week, but right this very moment.

That was the message from Marine Sgt. Maj. Paul McKenna, Command Senior Enlisted Leader for North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, shared with 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern) enlisted members during his visit with them May 15.

“The secretary of defense is clear. He wants us ready, physically, mentally and financially, so we can respond at that moment’s notice when our country needs the critical talent our military force brings to the mission,” McKenna said. “It’s truly such a privilege to serve in this capacity.”

McKenna went on to say, “I’m not paid to chase after technology solutions, I’m paid to get after the human element, to create an understanding of the critical importance each one of our military members represent, not only to our combatant commander but to each other as we go forward together in our combined service to this nation.”

A Trenton, N.J. native, McKenna is a combat veteran, who served in OPERATIONS Restore Hope, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. He said the biggest challenge he currently sees for the enlisted community is striking the right balance in the professional-personal-life dynamic while managing the rigors of readiness demands.

“Talking with these airmen, I was immediately impressed with their dedication and professionalism as they described their duties to me,” McKenna said. “It was a huge learning opportunity. I very much appreciate them taking their time with me to help me better understand and appreciate each of their roles as they contribute to the readiness levels expected of us.”

Chief Master Sgt. Richard King, 1st Air Force command chief, acknowledged the compliment.

“Our commander, Lt. Gen. R. Scott Williams, communicated readiness as a priority soon after he took command -- that our readiness level remain ‘at a moment’s notice,’” King said. “It gives me great pride to see how our airmen demonstrate their commitment to that priority on a daily basis.”