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NEWS | Feb. 26, 2024

Warfighting culture, changing mindsets: Topics for command chief’s brief to Airmen

Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

Chief Master Sgt. Chad Bickley, command chief for Air Education and Training Command, since July 2023, has made it his mission to change mindsets and infuse the warfighting culture into Airmen with straightforward conversations.

He’s taking his experiences and background from his last 30 years of military service and sharing his experiences and thoughts about combat-ready Airmen with his “Change in Mindset,” briefing that he said, “is not your typical all call.”

“Our NCO Corps will be the difference,” he said. “Based off my experiences, I’ve witnessed a lack of decentralized execution in many other military forces. Even the most tactical decisions are often made at the highest levels. We’ve seen the consequences of those decisions recently. I’m convinced this is why we would win in any future conflict. I guarantee our adversaries are envious of the role our NCO Corps plays in the U.S. military.  Sure, nations can purchase aircraft and weapons, but they can’t buy an empowered, trained, educated and entrusted all-volunteer NCO Corps.  It’s the key to building the Airman advantage in strategic competition.”

The chief’s military record includes 12 deployments, with 20 years as a Defender in the Air Force’s security forces.

“I would ask you what are you doing to make our Air Force better?” he said during his brief. “Every one of you are warfighters and every Airmen needs to know where they fit into the mission. I’m glad the Air Force is re-optimizing for the Great Power Competition. These changes will make us more competitive and, therefore more combat effective towards our pacing challenge. It’s an exciting time to serve in our Air Force.”

Bickley has given the briefing over 25 times in the past three years, for Airmen at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Air War College, Officer Training School, Air Mobility Command and AETC installations.

“There’s no time for spectators,” he said.  “We need wide-eyed leadership.  Know your commander’s intent and move out.”

The chief also talked about being combat-capable and mission-ready.  He said, “ We need to be comfortable doing the uncomfortable. Look at history books of what brought us here.”

Bickley stressed these key points:

  • Read to remain teachable.  Self-help books are great but don’t forget to read books from military leaders. 
  • The six most important inches on the next battlefield will be between your ears.
  • High standards and attention to detail in garrison will translate to success in combat. 
  • Train the way you fight and fight the way you train … stop white carding exercises.
  • Be physically fit and ready … it’s the nature of our business.
  • We are all in the Profession of Arms … our biggest responsibility is to ensure our Airmen are trained, organized, and equipped for success in combat
  • Connection plays a vital role in combatting our mental health challenges.

“When you leave this briefing, carry this message down to your formations and get after it. Our mission is vital in AETC. What we do and don’t do, will play a major role in the success of this great institution. I’m proud to serve alongside each of you in First Command.”