JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. —
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright visited Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 5, 2019 to meet with Airmen, gain first-hand knowledge on different career fields and to discuss the overall status of the Air Force and possible future changes.
While here, Wright spoke with Airmen from the Combined Maintenance Operations Facility, 87th Security Forces Squadron and the 621st Contingency Response Wing, to name a few. To conclude his day, Wright conducted an All Call with Joint Base MDL service members to hold a Q&A session and allow a direct two-way communication with the Airmen.
During the all call, Wright spoke on Air Force physical training tests and how Airmen should be healthy and fit in their everyday lifestyle.
“I don’t think using a PT test should be something that measures your health,” said Wright. “We need to change the culture of fitness testing and the stress it puts on Airmen.”
After a big push from military leaders in the last couple of years on fitness, the Air Force has lowered its rate of non-deployable Airmen from 6.5 percent to 4.65 percent after (former Secretary of Defense) James Mattis wanting the level to be below five percent.
“Airmen should always be healthy no matter what, regardless if they are deploying or just taking the PT test,” said Wright. “They should have the same level of pride in personal fitness, health and nutrition as they do in their work.”
In addition to talking about fitness, Wright also spoke on resiliency in the matter of the rising number of suicides across the force and how Air Force leadership is trying to provide Airmen with help during tough times.
“One of the most important things that I think we can do when understanding how to build more resilient Airmen, is to listen,” said Wright. “I’m not sure us as leaders, and I mean every Airman, l don’t think we are really listening to what people are saying.”
Wright believes the path to success in building more resilient Airmen does not begin in the Pentagon. He also believes that current training has little effect on helping Airmen be more resilient.
“I think we can all agree that it doesn’t work,” said Wright. “But we do want to be in a position to support your efforts. The greatest chance of building a more resilient airman is one that takes care of each other and encourages them. Airmen just need to know that you’re there and you care about them.”
Wright challenged Airmen to listen to one another to better understand their fellow wingmen and teammates that provides a better Air Force culture across the board while also using an analogy for Airmen to use.
“Iron sharpens iron. When you surround yourself with people that excel, it makes you and that individual better,” said Wright. “I want you to find a new person to add to your circle of people that will better you each and every day that strive for excellence, one of our Air Force core values.”
As Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, Wright represents the highest enlisted level of leadership, and as such, provides direction for the enlisted force and represents their interests, as appropriate, to the American public and to those in all levels of government. He serves as the personal adviser to the Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Air Force on all issues regarding the welfare, readiness, morale and proper utilization and progress of more than 410,000 enlisted members. Wright is the 18th chief master sergeant appointed to the highest noncommissioned officer position.
Wright enlisted in the Air Force in March of 1989 and his background includes various duties in the dental career field. He served as a Professional Military Education instructor and has held various senior enlisted positions while serving at squadron, group, wing, Task-Force and Numbered Air Force levels. He has deployed in support of operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and completed overseas tours in South Korea, Japan, Germany and Alaska.
Prior to assuming his current position, he served as the Command Chief Master Sergeant, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and U.S. Air Forces Africa, with headquarters at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.