Meet the chief
/ Published June 20, 2007
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Command Chief Master Sergeant Cari Kent's eyes sparkle with excitement when she talks about her new position as the 30th Space Wing's newest command chief master sergeant. Public Affairs sat down with Chief Kent to discuss her views on becoming the top senior enlisted advisor for the 30th Space Wing and her goals for the Airmen she'll lead.
Are you nervous about stepping into the job of Vandenberg's command chief?
I do have apprehension. It is such an important position and role on base. If I don't get it right, then Vandenberg's Airmen will not be properly represented, and they will lose faith in their leadership. It's a big weight on my shoulders, but I am confident that with the help of those around me, I can succeed.
What excites you most about carrying out your duties?
I will have the ability to change things that don't make sense and help the enlisted core on base. Vandenberg's enlisted have such a great reputation around the Air Force. I am excited to have the opportunity to become one of them and make a difference for them.
Did anybody give you advice on how to handle your new job?
A few people did give me advice--Command Chief Master Sgt. Michael Sullivan, Air Force Space Command; Command Chief Master Sgt, Command Chief Master Sgt. Cathi Durick, 14th Air Force; and Command Chief Master Sgt. Timothy Omdal, 21st Space Wing.. Each one told me I need to be myself, not try to be someone else.
Additionally, I think that it was Chief Omdal who told me to, "Come into the position and look around first, get to know the wing and the mission before you change anything because what they're doing may work for them." I liked that; I think that was amazing advice. But it is also hard advice, since we've been taught to make things ours as soon as we get there.
By being yourself, what can we expect?
I'm a people person who likes to have fun. If we are not having fun at what we are doing, then we are in the wrong business. I don't mean everyday, but overall we should have satisfaction in what we do. I am an eternal optimist who sees the good in people. So, with that in mind, I think that you will see me highlighting the positive parts and trying to improve the parts that may need a little help. You will also see me out and about with my family. We are outdoors people and plan to enjoy the area to the fullest.
Do you have any ideas yet on what you're going to do to make life easier for our Airmen?
I am going to listen to the Airmen on Vandenberg, champion their ideas and causes, as well as be available to them when they need me.
What do you think the biggest challenge today's Airmen face?
The pace of today's Air Force is probably the biggest challenge. Things are so quick now...whether you are deploying or staying at home, it's all a big challenge and failure is not an option--especially when we launch multi-million dollar payloads. We expect so much out of Airmen, and most of the time they are undermanned. In fact, by July, a number 30th Security Forces Squadron Airmen will be deployed, and not one part of their mission has gotten quieter. I can definitely see the stress there.
What does it take to be a good Airman in today's Air Force?
An Airman needs to display our Core Values, being committed to honesty, loyalty, competency and innovation. Also, Airmen need to accomplish the mission through good, hard, dedicated work.
Why should young people still consider a career in the Air Force in light of all that's going on in the world today?
What we do here is honorable. Vandenberg Airmen are America's Airmen. What we do everyday ensures the nation's freedom. Being an Airman is just a great way to live your life. As one of the first sergeants on base recently said, "Our worst days are better than most people's best days." It helps that Vandenberg's mission is tangible. By the whole wing working together, we are able to achieve the amazing accomplishment of a launch ... this is only possible through every Airman's commitment and teamwork. Not many careers have this kind of satisfaction.
Did you ever think you'd achieve the highest enlisted rank in the Air Force?
Absolutely not... I never thought that I'd be a career Airman. Honestly, I came into the Air Force just to go to Germany. My grandmother grew up there and she used to talk about it. I always thought it would be a nice place to live for a few years and I figured the Air Force was an easy way to get there. It wasn't until I was well into my second enlistment, I realized that my personality just fit with what I was doing.
As a young supervisor, I enjoyed my work in supply, and I learned that the more I gave of myself for the success of my people, the more I received back in satisfaction. I also never thought I'd be a chief. Even after 4- and-a-half years of having this rank, there are still times when I look down at my sleeve in amazement ... being a chief has been so cool! The funny part, I can remember when I was 18, new to the Air Force, seeing chiefs and thinking, "they're old enough to be my parents, I'll never make it there!"
(photo and interview by Airman 1st Class Erica Stewart)