Chief Master Sgt. Eric Jaren, AFMC’s command chief, will say goodbye during a retirement ceremony at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Gen. Donald Hoffman, AFMC commander, will preside over the ceremony scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.
Air Force life came as a natural choice to Jaren since his father was part of the enlisted corps serving in the cryptographic career field. During his dad’s career, the family moved from base to base, serving in 23 assignments in 23 years in places like Crete, Tripoli, Turkey and Washington state. He found he had an affinity for different cultures, an attribute Jaren thought served as a good foundation for his future Air Force career.
After graduating from high school the chief and two of his friends joined the Air Force together.
“I had an understanding of what the Air Force culture was,” he said. “After high school two of my best friends and I enlisted together. We served together at Travis Air Force Base. After a few years we were assigned to different locations, but we still keep in touch to this day.”
Jaren started his career as an aircraft maintenance technician and progressed to a flight line supervisor in a C-5/141 squadron. In November 2004 he was promoted to chief master sergeant while serving as the superintendant of the 494th aircraft maintenance unit at RAF Lakenheath, England. In December 2009 he was at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and had been selected to become the command chief for the 72nd Air Base wing at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. Having accepted the position at Tinker, another opportunity presented itself.
“Out of the blue, I received a telephone call from General Hoffman’s office that he wanted to interview me for the command chief’s position here at AFMC,” he said. “It was an exciting time. I did a video interview, and General Hoffman selected me for the position here in the headquarters.”
Jaren noted there have been many changes to the Air Force during his career but the changes with the most impact were the emergence of the digital world and the enlisted force becoming more professional.
“All of the processes have changed. When I entered the Air Force we used punch cards, we didn’t have computers in our offices. In the maintenance world, we did everything by written reports,” Jaren said. “Airmen today use laptops that enhance their abilities in ways we would have never imagined.”
Secondly, I have seen our enlisted force go from blue collar to a professional force – professional education, professional technical training. Professional military education is the key; it has shaped our force in ways you can’t imagine. The future of our enlisted force is bright and we will be called on to take more and more professional responsibilities.”
After 30 years of Air Force experience, Jaren offered this advice for young Airmen.
“First, you can’t see farther down the road than you have traveled yourself, and do your best at whatever task is given you. How you tackle those duties will say so much about you,” he said. “Be a part of the team because the team is greater than the individual. Finally, have the right attitude; attitude sets the tone for an organization and everyone around you. If you can do those three things, you will have a successful career.”
Jaren feels that professional military education in this new Air Force is paramount, and said that education equals mission success. He would like to see PME undertaken as an Airman progresses through the ranks earlier in his or her career.
“Our enlisted core is so professional and our jobs are so technical, that we have to have the education and the training to succeed,” he said. “We are going to have a smaller and more agile force, and that force is going to need the education and the training to accomplish the mission. The key to becoming more effective is professional military education, and in the future we need to align the education closer with each grade.”
As Jaren prepares to close the door on a very distinguished career, he shared a final thought for the men and women of AFMC.
“Throughout a long career, I’ve learned it doesn’t matter if you are enlisted, officer or civilian, and that being an Airman comes from the heart. I’m very proud to be associated with the professionals in the Air Force Materiel Command, and I leave knowing that younger, brighter more capable professionals are right behind me. I have great satisfaction knowing the future of the Air Force is secure.”