NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Chief Master Sgt. Charles R. Hoffman recently became the new Command Chief Master Sergeant, for the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
Entering active duty in 1991 as a weather observer, Hoffman’s diverse assignment background spans Air Force and Army field units at the major command, wing, group, squadron, brigade and higher headquarters Army levels.
As the senior enlisted leader of the USAFWC, Hoffman will serve as the primary adviser to the USAFWC commander on matters concerning mission effectiveness, readiness, training, health, morale and welfare of more than 14,000 Airmen serving in the 57th Wing, 53rd Wing, 99th Air Base Wing, 505th Command and Control Wing, the Nevada Test and Training Range, the Air Force Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities, and the Air Force Hoping Test Program Office.
Hoffman took the time to answer questions about his new assignment at the USAFWC and the lessons he learned during his career:
Q. What are your goals as command chief for USAFWC?
A. My goal is simply to help lead the organization and advise Maj. Gen. (Glen) VanHerck in a way that keeps us focused on the USAFWC priorities directly supporting Air Combat Command and Air Force priorities. Most importantly, we must continue growing full spectrum Airmen who rock their mission while gaining important leadership skills through experience, leading Airmen where the rubber meets the road, and education. We must never forget who will lead us into the future. If we do these things, we move big rocks for the Air Force. And, if we stay to our priorities and treat each other with trust and respect, the sky is the limit as to what we can accomplish and how much we can grow.
Q. What is your vision for the USAFWC?
A. A world class, people-centric organization that values critical thinking, excellence, and innovation that earns loyalty and commitment from its proud Airmen resulting in a decisive combat edge for the United States in any conflict today and tomorrow.
Q. How do you plan to impact Airmen?
A. I plan on listening, coaching and voicing Airman concerns to make a difference. We must do more with less, working smarter not harder. Leaders in our organizations should be tuned into the balance between mission, Airmen and their families. If an event or task doesn’t satisfy any of our priorities, we must ask the question “Is this something we ought to be doing?” I will be looking for areas and ideas about non-value added busy-work or feel-good items that don’t add to the mission or our Airmen. If it is something our flights, squadrons or wings don’t have the authority to stop, I’ll work with the boss to see what we can do about it.
Q. During your career, what is the most important lesson you have learned and how do you utilize that in day-to-day work?
A. Over the years, I have learned a few that I find valuable. First, listen twice as much as you speak, and when you speak, have something to say. The best Airmen ask great questions. Second, the most important thing you can do is invest your time into people, make white-space and train, teach and listen as much as you can; your email can wait. Third, take the high road. Never wrestle with pigs, you both get dirty and the pig loves it. Four, no matter where you are assigned, you can succeed. Your most important job is your current job. Fifth, if you are a leader of an organization and you don’t like the morale, performance, or some aspect of your organization, the first thing you should do is take a long look in the mirror.
Q. What is your leadership style?
A. My style is leadership by example and allowing you to do your job; but I am here if you need a barrier removed, advice, the “why” or coaching. I welcome your ideas and strive to be approachable. You can ask me anything.
Q. What are your expectations for Airmen here?
A. I expect our Airmen to treat each other with trust and respect every day. If we just come to work each day and treat each other with trust and respect, the mission gets done with excellence and innovation. I expect you to occasionally make mistakes (not crimes) and learn from them. I expect professionalism in all we do and most importantly, I expect mentorship and teaching to occur up and down the chain each day. Oh, and I like to have fun, you should too. We need to get back to that a bit in our Air Force, it starts with you. You work hard, you should play hard, but safely.
Q. Do you have any final words to add?
A. There’s a lot of talk about how to fix the Air Force, mostly, what the Air Force should do to fix itself.
What you end up with is a new Air Force Instruction, policy or program. All of which, in my opinion, feed an organization of compliance and management of things, not critical thinking through innovation and a leadership of people.
Yes, we need more resources in some areas, but it is amazing to me how we miss the opportunity to right the ship where we work, with the people we work with. So, I ask you to make a difference where you are. If you are doing something that doesn’t make sense ask “why”. If no one has any idea “why” we do it and you see a better way, be tenacious and get your thoughts to a decision maker (through your chain of command) in your organization.
Lastly, I ask that we all get out and kick the rocks in our organization and listen to and develop relationships with each other. People, not things, win wars.