JEFFERSON BARRACKS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mo. --
The 13th command chief of the Air National Guard visited Missouri Air National Guard members at historic Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Sept. 11, 2022.
Chief Master Sgt. Maurice L. Williams addressed members of the 131st Bomb Wing at a wing all call to open the day. After observing a poignant moment of silence to recognize the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks, he discussed several topics affecting today’s Airmen, including how 131st members fit into the big picture National Defense Strategy. He noted the distinctive nature of the wing, in terms of serving the NDS and the five Air Force core missions: air and space superiority; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; rapid global mobility; global strike; and command and control.
“The 131st is unique,” said Williams. “Many wings may only touch one of the core missions that the Air Force provides, but your wing touches three of them. That’s how you contribute to our National Defense Strategy.”
Williams summarized the Air Force foundational competencies laid out in the updated enlisted force structure and detailed how those competencies lay out a path for advancing each Airman throughout his or her career. He emphasized the value of developing oneself before attempting to mentor others.
“You’ve got to develop yourself to be able to give yourself to somebody else,” said Williams, further explaining that once an Airman reaches the top tier of leadership and skill, they have the capacity to guide people at any level.
The command chief also spoke about empowering Airmen and creating connections as a leader. He stressed the importance of the individuals within the organization and paraphrased President Theodore Roosevelt’s thoughts on leading through connection, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
“I want you to go up and talk to an Airman that you don’t know, listen to them intensely,” Williams said. “Talk to them about what they’re doing, their career and their family, and then come back and talk to them the next month and see what difference that makes.”
Williams has dedicated the entirety of his 35-year military career to the Air National Guard, so it was fitting that he was selected to represent the highest level of enlisted leadership within the ANG in October 2020. His wealth of experience gives him a well-developed perspective on leadership and what it means to be an Airman.
While touring the base and learning about the different units and missions under the 131st umbrella, the command chief shared his leadership philosophy with the Airmen he met. Staff Sgt. Maria Frost, a commander’s support staff member with the 231st Civil Engineering Flight, was one of nine Airmen selected to attend lunch with the chief.
Frost said it “broke down barriers” to be able to talk to someone at that level of leadership in a more casual setting, and that she appreciated getting to know him as a “down-to-earth” person.
Williams said he finds motivation in his “passion to help see people succeed.” He was able to identify his gift for leadership early on in his career during his Noncommissioned Officer Prep course, which has now evolved into Airman Leadership School.
“That inspired me,” he said. “Then getting in positions where I got higher up in rank, I was able to help change things, change policy, provide guidance, and lead people to drive them toward success.”
One way the chief uses his platform to educate and shape the future leaders of the Air Force is through his podcast “13 Ways to Lead,” which features discussions with a wide array of guests from staff sergeants to senior enlisted leaders to Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, director of the Air National Guard. Each episode highlights one of 13 different principles of leadership and generally lasts under 45 minutes, making it accessible to his target audience of multi-capable Airmen.
Williams’s visit to Jefferson Barracks demonstrated his commitment to empowering Airmen. He spoke on the state of the ANG and what the future may hold, as well as discussing the finer points of his personal leadership philosophy, but he also made sure to recognize the efforts and achievements of the 131st Bomb Wing and many of the individual Airmen who dedicate their time to making the wing successful in its missions.