AETC’s newest chiefs locked on readiness, competition at AU

  • Published
  • By Phil Berube
  • Air University Public Affairs

The First Command’s newest chief master sergeants were updated recently on the latest security challenges shaped by global competitors and provided recommendations on how best to prepare the Airmen under their charge to meet those challenges head on.  

The Combat Air Forces chair at Air University and faculty member at Air War College, Col. Scott Hoffman, briefed Air Education and Training Command’s 51 new chiefs on “Re-Orienting for Competition or Conflict with Great Powers,” Feb. 13, 2023.

The virtual briefing was given on the opening day of the weeklong Chiefs Orientation event at Air University, where more than 400 newly promoted chiefs from across the Department of the Air Force are learning what it means both professionally and personally to assume the service’s highest enlisted rank.

The first day was devoted to major command-specific briefings, and AETC was the sole command receiving the competition briefing.

“We are the First Command,” said the command chief for AETC, Chief Master Sgt. Erik Thompson. “All enlisted Airmen start their careers with us, and we set the tone and tenor for their journey in the Air Force. These new chiefs will have an influence on the careers of Airmen for decades to come.”

Thompson pointed out how many of the new chiefs in attendance represent organizations having a direct influence on Airmen and those wanting to become Airmen, such as basic military training, technical training units and Air Force Recruiting Service.

The colonel said his message to the senior enlisted leaders is that they and all Airmen “need to think and lead differently than how we have done in the past.”

“No longer can we expect to operate in a relatively benign and risk-free environment,” Hoffman said. “This new environment requires leaders to be aware of how each plays a part in support of strategic competition and to ensure our respective organizations are prepared across the spectrum of conflict, from competition to large-scale kinetic action.”  

Training, educating and preparing the enlisted force for this new dynamic global environment is what AETC is all about, said Thompson, and the chiefs in the room have the responsibility of carrying the message forward.

“We have to do this right,” he said. “We have to set them up for success in the future.”