One Door Closes, Another Opens: Chief Master Sgt. Heath Jennings Steps Into New Leadership Role
By Airman 1st Class Ryan Quijas, Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs
/ Published July 20, 2022
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
As the old adage goes, “One door closes, another opens,” this too can be said for leadership positions held on military installations, where a person will occupy that spot for two or so years. With the sunset of the Command Chief position on Space Force bases, two new positions will take its place. Sacramento, Calif. native Chief Master Sgt. Heath Jennings will take the new mantle of Senior Enlisted Leader. He will be an advisor for anything related to Space Launch Delta 30, and the command’s primary advocate for issues affecting enlisted Guardians.
Chief Jennings voiced his excitement to become the first Senior Enlisted Leader.
“I’m a people person, I get a lot of energy from interacting with people,” said Jennings. “So I’m most excited about the fact that this position is going to allow me to interact with more great Americans than I’ve had the chance to work with before. It really empowers me to make a difference in their lives.”
Jennings also noted on the importance of being a chief in the Space Force, citing a huge quantitative difference in the number of chiefs in the Space Force compared to the Air Force.
“In the Air Force there are over 3,000 Chiefs, so you can definitely make a big impact,” said Jennings. “I enjoyed coming to work and making life better for Airmen. In the Space Force however, there’s less than 50 chiefs, and we have to build the policies and programs for an entire service. There’s just so much more room to be able to make a difference; to really be part of something special.”
A cryptologic linguist by trade, Jennings didn’t exactly know what to
expect when asked to support the space mission, and eventually join the Space Force, but was enthused by the opportunity.
“If you would’ve asked me five years ago to join the Space Force, I would’ve said there’s zero chance,” said Jennings. “I wasn’t even tracking it as a possibility. But when I got here to Vandenberg, I realized that we’re doing some really big, special things, so when asked to transfer to the Space Force, I jumped at the opportunity.”
Vandenberg Space Force Base will be the first installation in the Department of Defense to have two senior enlisted leadership positions at the command staff level, and Chief Jennings aims to set the standard for the new format.
“I’m really looking forward to the transition from a Command Chief to a Senior Enlisted Leader working with the newly established Senior Enlisted Airman position,” he said. “We have the opportunity to show the Department of Defense what success looks like with the SEL and SEA. We want to figure that out and set the baseline. That’s the biggest goal for me.”
When Jennings leaves Vandenberg, he wants to leave behind a legacy of achievement as the first ever Senior Enlisted Leader.
“Hopefully when I leave, people will say that we’ve made Space Launch Delta 30 a better place to be, the go-to station,” said Jennings. “The Space Force is critically important to our national security, getting the senior enlisted positions right would be something to be proud of.”