Eighth Air Force command chief visits 116th

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Paul Ross
  • 116th Air Control Wing
Enlisted members from the 116th Air Control Wing got some insight on the future of the Air Force and first hand look at the new Airman Battle Uniform, April 26.

Eighth Air Force Command Chief Master Sergeant Todd Kabalan talked to troops at an enlisted call, where he was dressed in the new uniform, green boots and all.

"No, I did not iron this uniform, the command chief said. "There are permanent creases. How cool is that?"

Not trying to speculate on how the uniform keeps its creases Chief Kabalan ensured troops that the uniform is fully functional.

"This is a poly-cotton mix that just works -- I don't know if it's magic or what but it works," Chief Kabalan joked.

With all kidding aside, he ensured troops that he had tested the ABUs personally in a recent deployment.

"I have another set of these that I've had for about a year that I wore while deployed for six months," Chief Kabalan said. "It was washed in the field and the crease stayed in it and it worked."

Another ABU positive and a step up from the Battle Dress Uniform is the availability of sizes.

"It's comfortable," Chief Kabalan said. "There are actual sizes for people. There's boots sized for woman. It's a lot better fitting uniform."

After fielding more than 25 minutes worth of uniform questions the enlisted call turned towards more pressing Air Force issues, LEAN and AFSO 21.

"I can tell you (some examples of AFSO 21 initiatives) right now -- the gates," the Chief said. "Who's working the gates? Is that Air Force security forces out there? No, it's a contractor. We have stopped doing a lot of things in some specific career fields."

Chief Kabalan encouraged Airmen to put the positive changes brought on with AFSO 21 and LEAN into circulation and voiced his conviction in the troops and their capabilities.

"I would tell you all that if you know of things you have stopped doing, pass it on," Chief Kabalan asked. "We have some smart Airmen. These are the smartest airman we've ever had in the Air Force."

The topic then changed to cover other issues including changes to the Enlisted Performance Reports.

"Our EPRs will change," the Chief said. "Some people in the room, who are a little bit older, remember when we used to have to get a leave form and run it through 14 people before we could take leave. A day and a half later your form is done but your leave was over yesterday.

"If we can go virtual with leave, why not do it with EPRs. As the supervisor, I can digitally send it to the next person," the chief explained. "It will still have the same one through five ratings. Fitness will be on there in the categories of pass, fail or exempt. It will be electronically signed so the process will be quicker."

Chief Kabalan also informed troops of a new Air Force Major Command that is currently in the works.

"There will be a tenth major command in the Air Force - it is currently unnamed but will be the major command responsible for the global effects mission," Chief Kabalan said. "My predication is (it will be fully functional) before the end of this calendar year. It will be a four-star command."

The Chief then went on to let troops know a little bit more about the new command.

"What is cyberspace," the Chief asked? "To dumb it down, it is anything that operates within the electromagnetic spectrum. Everything you do (speaking of the 116th Air Control Wing mission) operates in cyberspace. What the Air Force has discovered is that while we dominate the air and sea, the enemy can be on equal ground in cyberspace with us. We need to dominate all things in cyberspace."

Although all of the issues addressed informed airmen of the coming future it seemed getting to see the ABUs in person excited them the most.

"I feel more informed about the future of the Air Force," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Phillips, 330th Airborne Mission Systems Specialist. "It was good to see the usability of the new uniforms and to actually see them in person."