In US Military First, the Air Force Has Picked a Woman as Top Enlisted Leader

June 22, 2020
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The next top Air Force enlisted leader is a woman, the first to ever serve as the highest ranking enlisted non-commissioned officer of a U.S. military branch.

The19th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force will be JoAnne Bass, currently the command chief master sergeant for the Second Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, the service announced Friday. She will replace Kaleth O. Wright, who came into the role in 2017.

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Airmen “are counting on leaders like me to make a positive impact in their lives,” Bass said in a video posted by Wright on social media. “I owe them my best.”

Wright also hailed Air Force Chief of Staff. Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown, who earlier this month was confirmed in a historic Senate vote as the first African American to ever serve as the top uniformed officer for any of the military branches.

“Gen. Brown knocked it out of the park with this selection,” Wright said on Twitter. “Proud moment in history, Great to be an Airman!”

“She has unique skills that will help us both lead the Total Force and live up to the high expectations of our Airmen,” Brown said in a statement about Bass. “She is a proven leader who has performed with distinction at every step of her accomplished career. I have no doubt that Chief Bass will provide wise counsel as we pursue and implement initiatives to develop and empower Airmen at all levels.”

Bass previously served as chief for the Air Force enlisted developmental education program at the Pentagon, according to her official biography. She has also deployed in support of Operations Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. She began her career in 1993 at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina and later served at Ramstein Air Base, Germany; and at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, as the the command chief master sergeant for the 17th Training Wing, her bio states.

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