New Command Chief Shares Vision for the Future

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Eric M. Sharman
  • 908th Airlift Wing

In her first tour of duty as a Command Chief, newly-arrived Chief Master Sgt. Kristen Maloney believes strongly that her job is important.

“Because I serve the Airmen,” said Maloney.

Arriving from Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station, where she served as the senior enlisted leader for the 934th Mission Support Group, Maloney has identified three priorities as she assumes her role at the 908th, beginning with ensuring the wing is ready.

“I want to make an impact and make sure our Airmen get what they need for a near-peer fight, because that’s a real possibility given what’s happening in the world. I need to make sure they’re ready, holistically, mentally, physically; in all aspects,” said Maloney.

A second priority for the Chief is the wing’s mission change, from the C-130H to the MH-139A Gray Wolf helicopter. Maloney realizes the impact of this change and wants to get started with the right foot forward.

“I want to push the wing along and get those choppers onto the flight line and get this [formal training unit] up and running and get our gray wolf footprint out into the world. It will be great to watch this history unfold,” according to Maloney.

Finally, Maloney wants to dig into the relationships the wing has with other units on the base. The active-duty 42d Air Base Wing is the installation host and the 908th is a tenant unit along with Air University and the many AU subordinate units.

“It’s important for me to understand our relationship with the 42d and continue that partnership, and utilize and optimize each other’s capabilities,” said Maloney.

With an estimated eight months until the MH-139 arrives, Maloney recognizes that the wing is going through a lull, created by a decrease in mission activity given that there are currently no assigned aircraft. Maloney sees this intermission as an opportunity.

“Things may have slowed down in this moment, but our team needs to keep leaning forward. This is an opportunity to optimize self-development and professional growth and look out to where you can help in other ways and broaden your scope,” said Maloney.

Having climbed the ranks during her 25 years of service, Maloney is looking at how she can support what she refers to as “the meat in the sandwich;” the noncommissioned officer corps.

“Our E-5 and E-6’s have a challenging role. They’re expected to lead and manage but also expected to be the technical experts. They are being leaned on from below and above,” said Maloney.

Staff and Tech. Sgts. are the front-line supervisors for Airmen, and are also tasked with the responsibility of mentorship concurrent with mission execution.

 “Those individuals are carrying a lot on their plate because they’re doing the work, and they’re building Airmen,” said Maloney. “I encourage them to defer to the practitioners [and] lean on your senior noncommissioned officers and each other, to figure out how to handle challenging situations.”

According to Maloney, the junior enlisted Airmen that those NCOs are leading have a unique opportunity as well, in that they are expected, and should be allowed, to make mistakes as they learn their trade and the profession of arms.

“Embrace and appreciate the moment you’re in because you have the luxury to learn and make mistakes, and its ok to make them,” said Maloney. “It’s ok to be uncertain and seek guidance from your leadership; those individuals you’re looking up to have been where you’ve been.”

Maloney is passionate about giving young Airmen the best possible opportunity to learn, grow, and fill the shoes of those serving ahead of them.

“There shouldn’t be any guard rails or boundaries around learning,” said Maloney. “Your NCOs and SNCOS will be there to guide and correct you.”