Chief orientation prepares selects for the next level

  • Published
  • By Brian Ferguson
  • Barnes Center for Enlisted Education

The Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education welcomed 483 chief master sergeant-selects from across the globe to Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, Feb. 20 – 23, for the 2024 Chief Master Sergeant Orientation.

The four-day orientation, held in the Polifka Auditorium on Maxwell AFB, is designed to prepare selects for life as a chief master sergeant, and offered attendees the opportunity to connect with each other and Air Force senior leaders. For 2024, Air Reserve Component selects were also invited to attend.

“The orientation has evolved in content and support to become the phenomenal experience we have today,” Michael Wester, Chief Leadership Academy director, said. “Previously held at each major command, the centralized chief master sergeant orientation, created in 2021, brings together our newest chiefs with our most senior Department of Defense leadership.”

The event brought speakers from around the Air Force to include Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass, Chief Master Sgt. of the Space Force John Bentivegna, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Jim Slife and Air Mobility Command Commander Gen. Mike Minihan, among other. The orientation also included a panel of four former Chief Master Sgts. of the Air Force: Jim Finch (#13), Gerald Murray (#14), Rodney McKinley (#15) and Kaleth Wright (#18).

The orientation focused on readiness, people and culture. Readiness stressed the shift to integrated deterrence with a focus on understanding China and Russia. People focused on modernizing enlisted force development to retain Airmen and Guardians. Culture spoke to building a service that is inclusive and allows members to thrive.

“The strategic viewpoints presented during these lectures and panel discussions illuminate the challenges our chiefs face as we navigate this era of great power competition,” Wester said. “This is just the beginning of their chief development.”

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