WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Air Force Association hosted its monthly Air Force breakfast with Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, as the keyote speaker, April 2 at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, Virginia.
During his speech, Welsh addressed many topics and issues in today’s Air Force, including hitting the “reset button.”
“For the last couple of years, what we have essentially been doing is trying to take this resource-limited environment, and the changing world around us, and turn it into a reset of the Air Force,” Welsh said. “An example would be our core values.”
The general emphasized the importance of the core values, saying that it’s just one reason serving in the Air Force is different from working in the private sector.
“You guys didn’t put the uniform on for the reasons that other people take jobs,” he said. “You put the uniform on to represent this nation — to stand beside each other when it’s really, really difficult in some really ugly places, and you put the uniform on to take care of the people of this country and their interests and to defend the allies that we stand beside. That’s why you did it — it’s a different profession and you have to understand that from the day you walk in the door.”
In addition to emphasizing the importance of the core values, Welsh said enlisted performance reports have been revamped, making way for an improved promotion system. In the past, performance accounted for only 1 percent toward promotion, all the way to senior master sergeant.
“That’s insane,” Welsh said. “In any organization that values performance, that’s just ridiculous. We have discussed how to get the technical sergeants who perform the best into the senior NCO grades sooner so they can serve longer and lead Airmen. The chiefs over the major commands have worked very hard to reset this over the last couple years. The new EPR system is in place and the new master sergeant board (will go into effect).”
Welsh also praised the work of Airmen in these uncertain times.
“I am trying to reset the Air Force to focus on the fight again,” Welsh said. “Our great Airmen go downrange and do amazing stuff. They do phenomenal work, and everyone they work for out there wants more of them.”
He also said he understands the concerns of Airmen regarding potential sequestration-level funding and provided reassurance that Air Force senior leaders are working the issue.
“We’re all moving forward now together,” Welsh said. “What I want the Airmen around the Air Force to do is refocus on the fight,” saying he’s working on the pay and benefits concerns on the minds of Airmen.
“We’re still going to give you the opportunities to do some of the coolest stuff on Earth and be the best on the planet at what you do, which is all you ask,” said Welsh. “And we’re just going to get out of your way and let you dominate. That’s what you’re good at.”