by TSgt. Dan Heaton
127th Wing Public Affairs
2/5/2012 - SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- Air National Guard Airmen will need to be more flexible in their careers than ever before as the nation's military restructures for the future.
"You might have to side step, a back step, a lateral move all with the focus on moving forward. That's likely to be the career path for new Airmen today," said Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall, the senior enlisted leader for the National Guard Bureau. "We have to be more flexible than we have ever been before."
Jelinski-Hall made her comments during a Feb. 4 town hall meeting attended by most of the roughly 1,400 enlisted Airmen who make up the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich. Her visit was part of a whirlwind tour of major National Guard facilities in Michigan and included stops at the Combat Readiness and Training Center in Alpena, Camp Graying, Joint Forces Headquarters in Lansing and Fort Custer and 110th Airlift Wing, both in Battle Creek.
Jelinski-Hall's visit with the Selfridge Airmen came a day after Air Force officials announced a plan that my bring big changes to the assigned missions at the base, including a proposed elimination of the mission to operate A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft at the base and an increase in the number of KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft assigned to Selfridge. The proposal is now before Congress for consideration.
"You might have to re-train, you might have to change your plans. That is part of being the most dependable and reliable Airmen you can be," Jelinski-Hall told a ground of recent enlistees during her visit to Selfridge.
Among those who heard the chief speak was Justin Forton, who enlisted in the Michigan Air National Guard about five months ago. Forton is waiting for his report date to attend Basic Military Training and officially earn the title of "Airman" in the Air Force.
Forton, who plans to become a member of the 127th Security Forces Squadron at Selfridge after his initial training is complete, said the chief's message was a simple one.
"Keep your head held high, focus on your career and focus on what you are doing," Forton said.
Jelinski-Hall spent most of her career as a member of the Hawaii Air National Guard after serving both on active duty and as a member of the California Air National Guard.
A key part of her job as a senior enlisted advisor is to seek out the concerns of and the issues facing the enlisted force of the National Guard and sharing those concerns with the senior leadership of the Guard. She reports directly to Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau. Jelinski-Hall urged Airmen to rely on each other and to use their enlisted leaders as resources during times of stress and uncertainty, such as what is now facing in the Air National Guard as the nation's military is re-aligned.
"I need you to stay focused and to be the very best Airman you can be and let leadership do what needs to be done at their level to determine the way forward," she said.