CHARLESTON, W.Va. --
The 130th Airlift Wing welcomed its newest member to the leadership team during April unit training assembly – Command Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Cecil.
Cecil assumed the role as the chief enlisted advisor to the commander where he will serve as principal advisor on all matters encompassing operations, training, and personnel for the more than 1,100 Airmen assigned to the 130th AW.
Cecil’s career has exposed him to numerous career fields, opportunities and lessons that he will bring into his new positions as command chief. He shared some of his experiences and beliefs with us recently for a question and answer session and here’s what he had to say…
Q: Why did you join the ANG?
A: I was seeking training and experience in the law enforcement field. I encountered a recruiter, Master Sgt. Jodi Keller, at the mall and it was probably the easiest enlistment she ever had. In retrospect, I was tired of having "jobs" and was seeking a mission in life, to be part of something bigger than myself. The Air National Guard was exactly what I wanted and needed in my life.
Q: What’s a bad experience you had as a young airman and how has that shaped how you lead airmen today?
A: I was very fortunate as a young Airman, my supervisors and mentors from E-1 through E-5 were outstanding over all. This period of my career covered my time spent as a Security Forces member and into the early part of my Recruiting duty with the 167th. Deliberate development and engaged mentorship were key in my early development as an Airman and is something I am very passionate about. Later in my career, I witnessed how poor leadership can set the tone and ruin the morale of a unit. Again, it was strong leaders and SNCOs in that environment who made the difference and set the tone in spite of challenges within the units.
Q: What was your favorite AFSC and why?
A: I cannot really point to a favorite. I have been a cop, recruiter, and military training instructor (MTI). I have served the last 10 years attached to the National Guard Bureau with duty locations of Lackland AFB, Texas, Kadena AB, Japan, and Joint Base Andrews. There are aspects to every AFSC and SDI I have been in that were positive and negative and all of them have taught me things and provided good lessons. Through the ups and downs in my career, I have learned the main thing to focus on is being the best Airman possible and taking care of people.
Q: What is the one piece of advice you would give to a young Airman just starting their career?
A: The biggest thing is to accept responsibility for your own career. Find a couple of mentors who exhibit the aspects of what the Air Force and Air National Guard call for us to be as Airmen and learn from that person. When you are given opportunity, take it - be it PME or any other chance to strengthen your knowledge. Know your military heritage and understand that we are in the profession of arms and what that means. Instructions and guidance are written for good reasons, so use them as your baseline for the way you conduct yourself and in your job. A minimum standard is just that, it means you or your work are average; our profession demands that we seek excellence.
Q: What are some initiatives you are considering to instate and how will they impact the Airman in the unit?
A: My primary intent to start off will be to ask a lot of questions and understand what is going on within the wing over all. Unless it is something that I identify that is contrary to what guidance or instructions state, I will be in learning mode for the first few months. Col. Ryan's mission and vision statements, along with his four directives, shape everything the wing should be doing every day, so I will be taking a look at how that is being executed. This will allow me to work closely with fellow Chiefs and other wing leadership to work as a team to address areas where there is the opportunity for improvement. I will also be seeking feedback from Airmen via surveys and town hall types of events. I am a big fan of continuous improvement and you cannot accomplish that without consistent feedback from all levels. I will also be spending a lot of time in all of the sections getting to know everyone and their mission.
Q: What do you consider the challenges are for today's Air Guardsmen and how do we set them up for success?
A: Today's Guardsmen are part of a force that has transitioned from a reserve force to an operational reserve force over the last number of years. The biggest challenges we face are being able to remain ready to meet mission requirements, both home and abroad, in an environment that has been fiscally constrained for the military. Essentially, doing more with less. We set Airmen up for success by ensuring they are trained and prepared mentally, physically and spiritually to perform the mission when called upon. To me that is as simple as genuinely being dedicated to deliberately developing Airmen and being engaged in their lives. Being good Wingmen laterally and up and down the chain of command!
Q: What challenges do you see for yourself in your new roll?
A: Being the "new guy" and maybe the fact that I come from the "outside." I am pretty simple to figure out though. My agenda is simply to do what is best for the Airmen of the 130th AW. I'm a firm believer if that you take care of Airmen the mission takes care of itself. This requires all of us to constantly evaluate ourselves and each other, and not be afraid to have direct conversations about how to seek continuous improvement. Even though I spent some time away from West Virginia, I have never broken my ties to the state and I am very humbled and honored to receive this responsibility. I look forward to working with all of you!