KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. -- The command chief of the Air National Guard visited Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon July 15, 2014. Chief Master Sgt. James Hotaling hosted numerous sessions with Airmen from the 173rd Fighter Wing and 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron ranging from junior enlisted, company grade officers, to Airmen support personnel such as the director of psychological health and the chaplain's office.
He frequently touched on the difficult fact that military budgets are slim and explained that this is not going to change. He stressed that the profession of arms is changing and that Airmen must adapt to a new environment.
"Are things changing rapidly in our United States Air Force?" he asked the audience to general agreement. "We need to understand that even if we get frustrated we chose to be a professional in this profession of arms, and who needs to change if rules change?--we do."
He went on to say that this is the starting point for the rest of the conversation, meeting as professionals and looking toward what the future has in store. Hotaling brought his unique perspective from the top of the enlisted corps and spoke bluntly about what he sees down the road.
If we do not change the way we do business, we will face enemies who are peers to us in military strength--"and that's scary," he added.
He emphasized that what cost savings are realized through cuts now are providing a safeguard against that point; that the money we are able to invest in future systems and weapons platforms for that contingency are critical.
While the chief discussed some difficult concepts affecting our Air Force and Air National Guard, he left Kingsley Airmen with a positive message.
"Out of the three components active, Reserve and Guard you are positioned the best because of how efficient you are, because you do more with less," he said.
The 173rd Fighter Wing sees this unfolding now as they expand the number of pilots produced without greatly increasing costs, and with the addition of a modest complement of active-duty troops scheduled to begin arriving in the fall.
When asked whether the guard would enjoy equal footing with the active duty on benefits such as base gyms and other nice-to-have infrastructure, he compares the cost of those things balanced against the ANG's efficiency saying "it's a dangerous road to go down."
He toured the base after the briefings including stops at the 270th ATCS and 173rd Security Forces Squadron.
Hotaling has occupied the top enlisted spot for 18 months and is the 11th Command Chief Master Sergeant for the ANG. Previously he served in Oregon as a 125th Special Tactics Squadron Combat Controller and then became the 142nd Fighter Wing Command Chief at Portland Air National Guard Base.