Chief Master Sgt. Cameron Kirksey, Command Chief for the 482nd Fighter Wing, addresses a recent Noncommissioned Officer Leadership Development Course at Homestead Air Reserve Base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ian Carrier)
6/26/2012 - HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. -- It's been almost one year since Chief Master Sgt. Cameron Kirksey assumed the role of Command Chief Master Sergeant for the 482nd Fighter Wing and he's excited about the year to come.
"I think a lot of good things are heading our way," said Kirksey. "We're continuing to grow and change and I'm excited about the future for Homestead."
There are a lot of projects and plans already taking shape on base and plenty of prospects still being fleshed out. From construction on a new fitness center and new buildings for various tenant units to a new troop dining facility and the addition of over 150 active duty Airmen joining team Homestead, the future of the base promises to be dynamic.
"We're not your typical Air Force Reserve base," said the chief. "With the mixture of servicemembers we have, the multiple tenant units, the importance of our mission, Homestead ARB finds itself in a unique situation that requires a lot from our Airmen."
As the base continues to evolve, the chief stresses the importance of its Airmen to evolve along with it.
"One of the reasons why we're the strongest military in the world is because our Airmen are obligated to take on a lot of responsibility," said Kirksey. "We breed them that way and empower them from day one."
In today's Air Force, Airmen are asked to think laterally more than ever before. Given the economic uncertainty of the times, Kirksey calls on Airmen to step out of their comfort zone even more to overcome outside factors and accomplish their mission.
"We see that the economy is changing, so we have to be smart and efficient in how we do our business," he said. "And that's not a bad thing to embrace. We need to synergize and find new efficiencies for the way ahead. We need to ask ourselves how we can maximize our opportunity to give back so at the end of the day we have contributed everything we can to the mission."
As adaptability is a key ingredient in Chief Kirksey's recipe for success, he also notes the importance of challenging oneself and proactively searching for the moments that force adaptation.
"If you don't challenge yourself, you stay in a comfort zone," said the chief. "And if you stay in your comfort zone, you will never know and you will never grow. How effective can I be as a leader if I'm stuck back in the old ways of doing things? From a leadership standpoint, you have to be able to go out there and take on new challenges."
The chief notes that one of the most rewarding challenges of his career was coming to Homestead ARB and leaving behind Maxwell Air Force Base, Ga., where he first enlisted in the Air Force Reserve and finally reaching the position of wing command chief master sergeant.
"Coming from Maxwell, a base that I spent my career at, I knew the personalities, nuances and pitfalls," he said. "As it turns out, this has been one of the most rewarding jobs, one of the most rewarding career moves I've ever had. Here, I really had to challenge myself to see if I really had what it took because it was a new environment completely different from the environment where I spent my previous 23 years."
As today's Airmen continue to step out of their comfort zones and engage in more critical thinking, the chief applauds junior Airmen for their ability to adapt and overcome.
"An interesting dynamic that I've noticed in my junior Airmen is that they're very receptive to immediate change," said Kirksey. "It's great to see them being really creative and robust - really biting at the bit to get out there and make things happen and do things differently if called upon. This is partly a reflection of their leadership and it's partly a reflection of the great capabilities of today's Airmen."
Camaraderie has always been a staple in the military experience. For Kirksey, camaraderie is a material aspect of being mission ready.
"Camaraderie is one of the best parts about being in the military and I dare say it's right up there with core value number one: integrity," he said. "If you don't have camaraderie, if your fellow Airmen feel like you don't have their back, then you're part of the wrong organization. If camaraderie is lacking, your organization is suffering somewhere and it will fail."
A native of Silas, Ala., Kirksey enlisted in the Air Force Reserve in March 1988 at Maxwell ARB. He's spent the last three years as a command chief master sergeant and he values the opportunities his position gives him to touch the lives of his fellow Airmen.
"You need good leadership to foster good followership," he said. "If I get excited about my mission, my Airmen get excited about their mission. Being command chief is very rewarding and it comes with profound moments, especially when you can see mindset changes from both a cultural and motivational perspective."
"When you're proud, when you have unity, when you have strong camaraderie, that's when the real Homestead character will shine", Kirksey said.