Story by Airman 1st Class Joseph Raatz, 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE — Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody spoke with Barksdale’s Airmen and leadership during an Airmen’s Call and base visit here, Jan. 22-23.
Cody, accompanied by his wife, retired Chief Master Sgt. Athena Cody, toured the base and talked to Airmen, discussing his priorities and his role as the Air Force’s senior enlisted leader.
“While we may concentrate on different things at different times, my priorities always remain the same: our Airmen and our Air Force,” Cody said. “How are we taking care of our Airmen, their development… certainly their quality of life, and how all these things factor into our force going into the future. Those priorities influence all of my decisions.
“I represent all the Airmen in our Air Force,” Cody explained. “My role is to represent them and to be able to articulate how we are utilizing them to our leadership and discuss whether that is effective, and make sure we’re doing right by them. And by the same token, it’s important that our Airmen understand that we owe them a conversation. We need to talk with them and talk with their families about why we’re doing what we’re doing and bridge those communication gaps.”
Cody also spoke on the importance of mentorship.
“How we reach our full potential is largely about who we surround ourselves with and how open we are to listening to what people say, how open we are to learning every day,” Cody said. “One of the most important resources you can have is a mentor. They’re those people who have been there and done that, who can share their experiences and pass down their knowledge to the next generation of Airmen and set them up for success.”
Cody met with small groups of Airmen, offering advice on leadership gleaned from his 30-year Air Force career.
“I always tell people aspiring to be leaders, if you’re not motivating and inspiring other people every day, you should be asking yourself ‘why not?’ You should be doing things on any given day that a younger Airman or peer would value and trust you enough to come to you and ask for help or advice,” he said.
During his visit, Cody addressed some junior enlisted Airmen’s concerns regarding their perceived inability to make significant contributions to the Air Force due to their position.
“I think some Airmen truly feel that way,” Cody said. “But we are always listening and open to ideas. We have our Airmen Powered by Innovation program; we’re taking ideas from Airmen all the time and I can give you a dozen examples of how we’re
taking very junior Airmen’s ideas and implementing them across the entire Air Force.
“Our Airmen are extremely innovative,” Cody continued. “We wouldn’t be the Air Force we are today without some of our most innovative ideas coming from our most junior Airmen.”
Cody described his visit to Barksdale as a way to connect with Airmen on a more personal level.
“If I could say one thing to the men and women of Barksdale, it would be thank you,” Cody said. “That’s really why we’re here. It’s to hear what’s on their minds but really it’s an opportunity for us to say thanks personally rather than sending it in an email or putting it on a roll call. It’s the opportunity to have face-to-face contact with our Airmen to let them know how much we value and appreciate what they and their families do and to tell them how important they are to our Air Force.”