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NEWS | May 19, 2006

ACC command chief discusses coming changes within force

By Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Chief Master Sgt. David Popp (pronounced pōpe), Air Combat Command command chief master sergeant, talked about changes in the Air Force, such as new uniforms and drawdowns, during a Langley Top Three meeting recently. 

“The best way to talk about the Air Force today is to talk about change,” he said. 

Chief Popp illustrated the first change by wearing it. Sporting the new Airmen battlefield uniform, he explained some of the reasons behind it. 

“We’re a plug and play Air Force,” he said. “This will be our uniform, in garrison or out of garrison. Why? Because you and I are going to spend more time as warriors than ever before.” 

Chief Popp said uniform changes that may seem insignificant, such as a pencil pocket on the sleeve, were designed to be lifesavers. In the current BDU, front pockets cannot be reached without opening an Airman’s flak vest. 

The chief also addressed the idea of wearing Army patches on Air Force uniforms. 

“Sometimes, I think we have an identity crisis as Airmen,” he said. “Why do we need to wear the Combat Action Badge? Are we not proud of our Air Force? Would the Army wear one of our patches? Why as Airmen do we want something on our uniform from a sister service?” 

Chief Popp said Airmen should be proud of their accomplishments when they deploy, but keep their Air Force identity. 

“Let’s stick with the Air Force,” he said. “Let’s be proud of what we do, and as the team calls us up and asks for help, let’s go help them.” 

Drawdowns were another topic Chief Popp addressed. He said it was part of the Air Force strategy. 

“As we go through the drawdown, we have to look at the strategy,” he said. “Who are we going to fight? What kind of planes do we need? Many of you know the F-22 requires less maintainers than the F-15. One reason is that we don’t need as many F-22s to do the same thing. But, how do we pay for new weapons systems?” 

Drawdowns, while painful, were necessary, he continued. 

“You have to modernize to keep the homeland from being attacked,” he said. “And taxpayers pay you and I to keep the homeland from being attacked, but how do we pay for it?” 

Chief Popp asked noncommissioned officers and senior NCOs to help keep unfounded rumors about coming changes under control. 

“As we go through these changes, stay out of the emotions,” he said. “Get the facts. Be a good information manager. If you find yourself having trouble going through these changes, reflect back on our foundations – the core values. If you hang onto the core values, you’ll be able to go through these changes just fine.” 

“Change is here to stay,” he said.