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Taking the Seat: CMSgt Ronnie J. Woods

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sergeant Ronnie J. Woods
  • 8th Air Force Command Chief/J-GSOC Senior Enlisted Leader

Never in a million years did I think I would be sitting here as the Eighth Air Force Command Chief and Joint-Global Strike Operations Center Senior Enlisted Leader. As such, I’m charged with advising the commander for the combined total force integration, utilization, readiness, assignment, morale, and welfare of more than 24,000 joint war fighters across six installations, and proudly operating more than 150 E-4, B-1, B-2, B-52, and T-38 aircraft. 

I’m also a proud husband to my beautiful wife Akia, who is an honorably separated security forces Airman. Additionally, a proud father to my children: Sincere, who is currently in the US Air Force stationed at Ramstein Air Base, my daughter Nakeria (18-years old), and my youngest daughter Alia (13-years old). Finally, I’m a big brother to my baby sister, Remona, who is in the U.S. Air Force stationed at Hill Air Force Base. 

Twenty-five years ago, I attended high school as a senior in inner-city Chicago, Illinois, with little to no direction or motivation to leave the city. I started to ask myself about the direction of my future. The more I reflected on my upbringing and the challenges it created, the more I knew I wanted to get away.  I grew up in a very unstructured environment surrounded by gangs, drugs, violence, prostitution, and poverty.  As a small and skinny young man wearing hand-me-downs, I was bullied and teased a lot. This led to my dad encouraging me to get into wrestling to defend myself, and I did well at it.  Both my parents had substance abuse issues that they were working through and tried their best to instill the values of hard work, respect, integrity, and honor of the Woods’ name in me.  These were the traits that gave me the courage to take my friend's advice and go chat with a recruiter about joining the United States Air Force. 

My 25-year Air Force career up to this point can be described simply as polarizing. Early in my career, as a first-term Airman at Malmstrom AFB, I was a junior enlisted member who struggled to adapt to the structure of the military. As an airman 1st class, I was offered an administrative discharge by my unit commander for failure to adapt to the U.S. Air Force. Against the advice of my first sergeant, I requested a personal appearance with the commander, where I looked him in the eyes and asked him to give me one more opportunity to serve my country. My commander went against conventional wisdom and gave me one more chance. On the flip side, as a technical sergeant, I was promoted to all the senior non-commissioned officer ranks on my first try.  As a SNCO I have been recognized at all levels. As I stated, I had the reputation of an airman who couldn’t do anything right, and the SNCO who was unable to do anything wrong. I feel I’m neither one, but this is the perspective that has shaped the type of leader I would become as a command chief – a servant and empathetic leader who inspires others to improve the quality of life for airmen and families. 

The Mighty Eighth Airmen have a phenomenal mission of indefinite strategic deterrence, global strike, and expeditionary readiness to protect the United States of America. The Mighty Eighth’s mission is in high demand across all combatant commands globally. We are in a historic time in U.S. Air Force history, where we are a back-to-basics command that is ready to fight tonight while simultaneously bridging the future bomber force. It is one of the most important missions that defends our way of life in America. In my first three months, I have visited every Mighty Eighth installation. What I have witnessed is greatness from our Airmen, who are very proud of the work they are doing. They are simply the best in the world! The world stopped in 2020 due to a world-wide pandemic, but the mission of indefinite strategic deterrence never stopped. This impacted our Airmen and families' morale, quality of life, quality of service, resilience and culture. 

My number one goal as the Mighty Eighth Command Chief is to leave the command a little bit better than how I found it. I want to make positive contributions to our mission and uplift our Airmen to have pride in being Striker Airmen. To address this, my focus areas will be Development, Readiness, Innovation, People and Standards, or in short “DRIPS.”  I will address these focus areas by:

  • DEVELOPING our Airmen to face the unique challenges of the future
  • Advancing our war fighting READINESS to fight tonight and tomorrow
  • Fostering an environment of INNOVATION, free of bureaucracy
  • Improving the quality of life, resilience, and recognition of the PEOPLE
  • Enforcing STANDARDS, professionalism and core values always and everywhere

Team Mighty Eighth, I can’t make any promises that I will solve all of our issues. What I will promise you is that I will walk with you to ensure I understand what you are going through. Also, I will leave it all on the field and give all that I have to try to make life a little better for our Airmen and families. I am looking forward to this opportunity of a lifetime and can’t wait to go on this journey with you all. Looking forward to meeting you all!