TYNDALL AFB, Fla. --
Senior enlisted leaders from across the National Guard enterprise gathered at the Killey Center here Dec. 6 -7 for their quarterly Enlisted Force Advisory Council meeting.
For Chief Master Sgt. Richard King, Continental U.S. Aerospace Defense Region-1st Air Force (AFNORTH) Command Chief, the two-day meeting proved an exceptional success.
“It was a real highlight and honor to get input from the former command chiefs and validate our successful evolution to this point,” King said. “I think the great number of attendees who took the time out of their busy schedules to attend this meeting speaks volumes about how much we care and how critical it is the enlisted voice is heard at the highest levels. I thought this EFAC went exceptionally well and look forward to making progress together until we meet again in February in Savannah, GA.”
According to Chief Master Sgt. James Brown, Command Senior Enlisted Leader for the Kansas National Guard and Air National Guard EFAC Chairman, the quarterly meeting provides an optimum forum for the leaders to discuss, disseminate and discover ways forward for solutions to issues affecting the enlisted National Guard force. He said agenda issues may generate from either bottom up or top down.
“While we have some issues come up from units in the field, we also have those concerns expressed from the top down, such as those items from the ANG Command Chief” Brown said.
At the meetings, aside from the ANG Command Chief, the EFAC chairman and vice chairman, the council is comprised of a primary and alternate command chief master sergeant representative from each of seven geographical regions throughout the U.S. Attendees for this meeting also included five previous Air National Guard Command Chiefs and a representative from the Army’s Command Sergeant Major Advisory Council.
“Anyone is welcome to attend our meetings and Airman of any grade can get an issue to us using the process outlined in ANG Instruction 36-2601 which is to submit an NGB Form 802 to the wing or state command chief master sergeant,” Brown said. “And if it happens that it can be resolved at a lower level upon submission, all the better. Either way, it’s a win-win situation for the Airmen because the issue gets attention, our ultimate goal.”
Brown acknowledged some issues present greater challenges than others, especially when it comes to those involving policy or fiscal requirements.
“Issues that require legislation or are associated with budget issues tend to take a little longer as it’s the nature of the process, but the important thing is they’re being worked. To some form of resolution,” Brown said.
Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Sluder, Kansas ANG Command Chief, EFAC Region 5 representative, and former senior enlisted leader for Air Forces Northern’s Operations Directorate, said he enjoys the EFAC meetings for the opportunity to network and hear issues first hand from other senior enlisted leaders in the field.
“It’s a real honor to serve on the regions board and be able to give voice of our respective enlisted forces’ concerns to the Air National Guard Command Chief in person,” Sluder said. “It’s a great experience because there’s a lot of excitement and energy at this event -- it’s truly the enlisted voice we bring to bear here,” he said.
Part of that excitement and energy this meeting was the first-time attendance of a representative from the Army National Guard’s Command Sergeant Major Advisory Council, Command Sergeant Major James Allen from West Virginia. Allen is also the CSMAC vice chairman.
“We may have different acronyms but we discovered we do have a lot of the same issues when it comes to our enlisted concerns,” Allen said. “Whether it’s professional military education, evaluations or fitness standards, the bottom line is we’re all concerned with taking care of our enlisted force.”
Some of the five former Air National Guard command chiefs who attended shared their perspectives during the first morning session.
Chief Master Sgt. (Ret.) Richard Moon, ANG EFAC founder, said while many things have changed since the organization’s creation in the late 80s, “taking care of our people remains the utmost goal.”
Former CONR-AFNORTH Command Chief Master Sgt. (Ret.) James Hotaling, was also in attendance as one of the five former ANG Command Chiefs.
“I’m very proud to be part of this group today,” Hotaling said. “Addressing the concerns of our enlisted force must always go beyond what we learned from books during professional development. It’s about working together and having the common bond of experience, learning from it and sharing those lessons for the common good.”