Bass said despite a hectic schedule in the midst of COVID-19 mitigation, she wanted to make a point to “spend some time connecting with the Red Tails.”
One Airman asked what stepping into the history books as the first woman selected for her role meant to her.
“It’s very humbling. It’s an honor to be the first,” she said, “but I will tell you, I don’t spend a great deal of time thinking about me being a female chief.”
She went on to say that her goal is to set up the culture of the force to facilitate more women stepping into the position.
“And one day we will quit addressing the ‘first’ and the ‘second’ and just value people based on who they are and based on their merit,” she said.
She said hurdles are an inevitable part of life and went on to detail her thoughts on successfully navigating the challenges she has faced.
“I never forget my ‘why,'” and went on to describe that “why,” saying, “I need to help do my part to make sure our Air Force is where it needs to be, that I’ve built up people around me to eventually pass the baton to and take my place.”
It’s that desire, she said, that has held her past the opportunity to retire eight years ago and past the opportunity to make more money in the civil sector.
When the topic turned to her tenure in the top enlisted spot, she laid out a vision for accelerated change across the enlisted corps, “What does our Air Force need to look like in 2030; what does an Airman need to look like in 2030?”
Creating a force ready for operations in the next 10 years is also a high priority for the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., she said, before laying out several areas that will see changes, including the fitness program.
“In 2030, the way that PT looks today, is not how it should look 10 years from now,” in reference to a more holistic approach currently on the drawing board. “In 10 years from now, if we are not using technology to see if our Airmen are fit, then something is wrong.”
When the evening wrapped up, and the allotted time to ask questions ran out, Master Sgt. Jaleesa Gleaves summed up what made the event so special saying, “It was just so spot on to request her since she is a woman in the United States, that serves the world’s greatest air force-the United States Air Force, and she is making history.”
When asked if she was confident Bass would accept the invitation to join the wing for Women’s History Month, Gleaves, the event organizer, said, “Absolutely not-I was surprised, shocked and joyful when her team notified me of the acceptance to my invitation,” she added.