• Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Mary Thach
  • 155th Air Refueling Wing, Public Affairs
The Nebraska Air National Guard's 155th Air Refueling Wing welcomed Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody, and his wife, retired Chief Master Sgt. Athena Cody, to visit with wing Airmen Feb. 21-22, 2015, during a Unit Training Assembly, in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The Nebraska Guardsmen gathered for an Airman's Call with Cody to hear where the Air Force is headed in the future. He also opened the floor for Airmen to ask him questions directly.
Cody said he was grateful for the opportunity to visit the Nebraska Airmen and thank them for their continued effort to support our nation, especially after a large portion of the 155th ARW had just returned from deployments.
"It was great to see everyone come back [from deployment] because it is a spirited time of everyone reconnecting," said Cody.  "I see great attitudes in our Airmen. There is a lot of pride in what they do in their mission, but also an acknowledgement that there has been quite a bit of tempo."
Cody said the Air Force's high deployment tempo brings stress not only to the deployed member, but also to their family and employers who are trying to keep everything going in their absence.
Cody said he views the ANG like every other component of the Air Force, whether it's Guard, Reserve active duty or civilian. He feels it's a necessity for our nation to blend the three uniformed components together. Air power is not possible without Air Guardsmen, said Cody, because the force has become operational at all levels, deploying worldwide.
All enlisted Airmen enter through the gates of Lackland Air Force Base for basic military training  and start at the lowest ranks. The Airman is referred to as "trainee" until he or she has earned  stripes by enduring eight and a half weeks of rigorous training and exhausting routines.
Cody's advice to new Airmen applies at any level, officer or enlisted. Cody said simply do your best and strive to mentor the Airmen under your charge.
"Our young Airmen are thirsty for motivation and inspiration and that should be coming directly from those front line supervisors in a very positive and uplifting way," said Cody. "To do that with this generation of Airmen, we need to understand them. We continue to learn as we go."
The Air force has adapted BMT to understand and capitalize on young Airmen's unique skill sets and the fresh perspective they bring, said Cody. It's important that the Air Force acknowledges these young people for who they are and use those talents to make the next generation of Airmen a cut-above past and current generations.
"You cannot leverage [Airmen] into the future if you are trying to make them like yourself," said Cody. "They will never be you. They will be better than you if you do it right."
Preparing the next generation of Airmen for our future Air Force begins with the Airman's supervisor building a professional relationship based on trust with each individual Airman. Cody said there are parts of our culture every Airman must follow, such as understanding what it means to treat one another with dignity and respect, and embracing the core values: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all you do.
The challenge NCOs may face with the next generation of Airmen is learning how to motivate and inspire them, said Cody.
  "How do you give them the right level of supervision but empower them to change the Air Force?" said Cody. "Your job is less about you and more about the people you are leading. You have to help those people grow. You should be excited when a young person comes to you to seek your input."
"They want to know how to do things and they will ask 'why' a lot," added Cody. "'Why means they really are interested in what they are doing. The reality is, they are smart enough to find a better way to do it, if they understand why they are doing it. What will continue to elevate our force in the future is how we capitalize on their talents, not how we suppress them."
Cody said he believes professional relationships with meaning and purpose are what the Air Force uses to build a firm foundation of mutual trust and respect for one another, not just the position someone holds within the organization.
"You have to have a level of dignity in the relationship, and over time, you show people that you care, which builds trust," said Cody. "All those little challenges that come up along the way are no longer challenges, because you have a strong foundation. Every SNCOs job is to help each and every airman they touch to reach their full potential."