Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass joined a teleconference with more than 300 Airmen enrolled virtually in NCO academy and Airman leadership school with instructors at the Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center in East Tennessee.
“She understands the challenges of this COVID environment on the EPME enterprise,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Steven Durrance, the Lankford Center commandant. “As a former EPME Instructor, Chief Bass has that experience speaking with fellow Airmen, and she approaches these opportunities with the same amount of zeal as she did in the classroom.”
Bass offered her enlisted viewpoint Feb. 1, during the total force students’ closing weeks of virtual in-resident remote EPME — which shifted to online classes last June and graduated thousands from their homes during the pandemic.
She spoke on the Air Force’s challenges in readiness in the coming decade and how the all-volunteer force will train and develop through total force talent-management to ensure strong 2030 Airmen. She also expressed her appreciation to Airmen and their families for their sacrifices and service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You continue to support, and you continue to raise your hand and be part of the one-percent that serve our nation,” she said. “And that is not lost on us.”
The chief answered nearly two dozen questions generated by each of the EPME classes’ flights. She discussed issues on Airmen development, diversity, and resiliency. She also provided her position on responsible social media, and she encouraged Airmen to weigh the potential benefits and harm social media actions have to themselves and others.
She also shared some of her career challenges, including experiences and hopes as a junior Airman. “I remember sitting in ALS and NCO academy,” she said.
All Airmen have the opportunity to become a CMSAF, said Bass. According to the chief, leaders’ investments through mentorship and coaching are essential factors that shape Airmen’s talents to reach such potential.
“Thank you so much for spending the last hour with me,” said Bass. “Honestly, I could have spent another hour with you … to put you all on a panel and ask you a bunch of questions, because I like to be in the receive mode on what are some of the things that you think we need focused on.”