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USTRANSCOM hosts Senior Enlisted Leaders

USTRANSCOM hosted top enlisted leaders July 21 at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, and they met with junior enlisted members. (L to R) Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Allen, USA, senior enlisted leader, JECC; Master Chief John Lawry, USN, command master chief, MSC; Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Caruso, USAF, senior enlisted leader, USTRANSCOM; Chief Master Sgt. Shelina Frey, USAF, senior enlisted leader, AMC; and Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin McKeller, USA, command sergeant major, SDDC. Photo by Bob Fehringer, USTRANSCOM/PA

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Photo Caption:  USTRANSCOM hosted top enlisted leaders July 21 at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, and they met with junior enlisted members. (L to R) Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Allen, USA, senior enlisted leader, JECC; Master Chief John Lawry, USN, command master chief, MSC; Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Caruso, USAF, senior enlisted leader, USTRANSCOM; Chief Master Sgt. Shelina Frey, USAF, senior enlisted leader, AMC; and Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin McKeller, USA, command sergeant major, SDDC.  Photo by Bob Fehringer, USTRANSCOM/PA




U.S. Transportation Command’s Senior Enlisted Leader, Chief Master Sgt. Matthew M. Caruso, hosted senior enlisted leaders from USTRANSCOM and its component and subordinate commands -- Air Mobility Command, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, Military Sealift Command, Joint Transportation Reserve Unit and Joint Enabling Capabilities Command – at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, for Senior Enlisted Leader Day July 21.


As the principal advisor to the combatant commander, Air Force Gen. Darren W. McDew, Caruso is responsible for all matters concerning enlisted joint force integration, career development, and utilization and sustainment of enlisted service members. 


Since filling the Combatant Command Senior Enlisted Leader position on May 10, Caruso has been traveling throughout USTRANSCOM’s enterprise to listen and learn from the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who make up the more than 150,000 personnel responsible for global air, land and sea transportation for the Department of Defense.


“My first priority, initially, was to engage with the components to learn where my experience might help their units,” said Caruso.  “During my first 60 days in the position, I came to realize how large and busy the organization is, but, more importantly, that the components were doing great.  So, I shifted my focus to the headquarters enlisted force and have started applying leadership and organizational effectiveness, and incorporating a culture of excellence and professionalism into the team.”


The July 21 meetings served as Caruso’s platform to provide feedback to his senior enlisted colleagues on the organization’s leadership philosophy and operational pace, as well as priorities facing the total force, including suicide and sexual assault prevention. 


“Coming together in person here at the USTRANSCOM headquarters really drives home the organization’s desire to share information while improving all our processes and looking out for the best for all our people,” said Command Master Chief John Lawry of MSC.  “We carry back these discussions to service members, civilians and contractors in our commands and positively impact our organization’s ability to communicate, collaborate, and coordinate… at the end of the day, we strengthen the team.”


Caruso also included USTRANSCOM’s senior enlisted advisors and service element senior enlisted advisors in the meetings to facilitate more meaningful discussions on enlisted workforce development, service-specific career progression and relationship building in the joint environment.


According to Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Allen from the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, the dynamic discussions regarding USTRANSCOM’s way-ahead and the clarity of written priorities and intent from the USTRANSCOM commander was very useful. 


“We do not enjoy the opportunity to hit pause in our daily schedules, so to be able to come to USTRANSCOM, have time with all these leaders, and learn how my organization fits into the team to best support Chief Caruso, Gen. McDew, and the thousands of men and women of USTRANSCOM is incredible,” said Allen.


Events throughout the day were open to all personnel, particularly the round table luncheon and two all-hands forums. 


During the round table luncheon, discussions focused on the dual role many service members have at USTRANSCOM, especially those in leadership positions who come from service elements other than the Air Force.  In particular, only a handful of enlisted Marines are assigned to USTRANSCOM.  While each of those Marines has a specific billet assignment, they also have leadership responsibilities for other Marines, as well as unique service-specific training, physical fitness and professional development expectations. 


“Each of our teammates, especially those senior non-commissioned officers, wears many hats at USTRANSCOM,” remarked Caruso.  “Understanding which hat to wear and when to wear it is a big challenge of joint duty – especially for soldiers, sailors and Marines who are not accustomed to the structures and services at Air Force installations like Scott.”


Divided between junior and senior enlisted audiences, the two all-hands forums were designed to facilitate open dialogue between the senior enlisted leaders and the joint service members assigned to USTRANSCOM.  The forums featured in-depth discussions regarding force of the future, staffing and billet structure, and working in the joint environment.  However, questions regarding high year tenure and readiness echoed through both of the joint forums, particularly differences in promotion rates among services assigned to USTRANSCOM.


According to Chief Master Sgt. Shelina Frey, senior enlisted leader at Air Mobility Command, service members should consider more focus on teamwork than individual promotion and accomplishment.  After sharing stories about delays from her career, Frey introduced the concept of “disruptive leadership” and encouraged those attending to apply it to their professional and personal choices.


“By focusing less on the individual, and more on what is not right with situations or circumstances, you will make changes,” shared Frey.  “As disruptive leaders, we should do what is right for everyone, because each of you has what it takes to lead in these challenging times… when you walk into a room, that room changes, and that room is better because of you.”


Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin McKeller of the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command also challenged those attending the all-hands forums to be prepared for the unexpected.


“Tonight, when you look in the mirror, think about going to war and ask yourself if you are ready to fight,” explained McKeller.  “The military no longer has the luxury of playing the home game, so each of you must be ready – mentally, physically and from a family-care perspective – to deploy on a moment’s notice to defend our freedoms and protect our great nation.”


According to Caruso, no day of meetings is complete without a little physical fitness time factored into the schedule. 


"Taking time to nourish the body is as important as developing the mind,” shared Caruso.  


In that spirit, nearly 20 senior enlisted leaders from USTRANSCOM’s component and subordinate commands, as well as senior leaders from each of the directorates, joined Caruso for a joint fitness session.



Emphasis of disruptive leadership, personal preparedness, professional education, mentoring others and physical fitness may have been highlights of the day’s conversations, but according to Caruso the true value of the meetings will only be found in the enhanced collaboration that USTRANSCOM’s senior enlisted leaders will seek to foster in the coming days and weeks.


“Working together, we can harness hundreds of years of leadership, experience and problem solving,” shared Caruso at the close of the meetings.  “Together, every service member at this command, in their own inimitable way, helps USTRANSCOM carry our nation’s warriors to the fight, sustain them through their mission, and return them home safely to their loved ones – together, we deliver.”


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