Top enlisted airman boosts troops in Germany
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — The Air Force’s top enlisted serviceman is visiting airmen in the Kaiserslautern military community Tuesday as he winds up a tour of European bases.
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Gerald Murray will address airmen enrolled in local military education courses, talk with European senior enlisted leadership and share lunch with airman at Ramstein, said Heather Miller, an 86th Airlift Wing spokeswoman.
Visiting Ramstein is a critical stop for Air Force leaders, said Command Chief Master Sgt. Tim Carroll, the wing’s top enlisted man.
“This is where it’s all happening. We’re the hub of Air Force operations,” Carroll said. “It’s important for [Murray] to see what we do here and get a feel for the challenges and contributions Ramstein members are making.”
The visit is Murray’s first to Ramstein since taking over the No. 1 enlisted job in July, Carroll said.
Murray will take observations back to Washington to the Chief of Staff and secretary of the Air Force to assist leaders in plotting future paths for the service, Carroll said.
Murray also is likely to inform airmen about current Air Force issues, including one foremost in airmen’s minds — deployments, Carroll said.
“I think probably one of his messages is to ask airmen to be patient about the [Aerospace Expeditionary Force] process and longer deployments,” Carroll said.
“He’s relying on us all to make [AEF] work as leaders in Washington try to reduce the time people spend away from their families,” Carroll added.
Several years ago, the Air Force began a deployment process to reduce the length of deployments and give stability to airmen’s lives by adopting 90-day deployment windows every 15 months.
However, the Air Force automatically tasks many airmen in several career fields to spend 179 days on tour, the maximum allowed without a secretary of the Air Force waiver, during the current state of world affairs, Air Force officials said.
The 86th Airlift Wing has more than 400 airmen deployed around the world right now, said Brig. Gen. Erwin F. Lessel III, the wing’s commander.
Murray has been traveling for the past two weeks and visited bases in the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and Germany before landing at Ramstein, his final European stop, Carroll said.
The chief is here for more than just active-duty airmen, Carroll said. He also wants to show his gratitude to family members for the many sacrifices they make to support the nation’s servicemembers, he said.
“I know Chief Murray, and I know he cares about [family members],” Carroll said.
More than 8,700 airmen and 11,400 family members live and work in the Kaiserslautern military community, Air Force officials said.