JoAnne Bass Named 19th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Highest Ranking Noncommissioned Female Member of a US Military Service


Chief Master Sgt. JoAnne S. Bass was selected to become the 19th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, and is the first woman in history to serve as the highest ranking non commissioned member of a U.S. military service.

As a Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force (CMSAF) Bass will be a personal adviser to the chief of staff and Department of Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett concerning the welfare, readiness, morale and proper utilization of more than 410,000 enlisted members.

Secretary Barrett, herself, is the most powerful woman in the Air Force as the 25th Secretary of the Air Force. She leads the affairs of the Department of the Air Force, which includes the U.S Space Force. She is responsible for organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of 685,000 active duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian Airmen and their families.

She oversees the department’s annual budget of more than $205 billion.  Barrett directs strategy and policy development, risk management, weapons acquisition, technology investments and human resource management across the global enterprise. As the department’s senior leader, Secretary Barrett implements decisions of the President, Congress and fulfills Combatant Commanders’ operational requirements.

In her new role, Bass will provide direction for the enlisted force and will represent their interests. She will also be responsible for addressing racial disparity in the Air Force. She will be the public face of Air Force enlisted personnel in all levels of government.

Bass was chosen out of a group of more than a dozen finalists based on their breadth of experience, recommendations from senior commanders and performance across the candidates Air Force career.

The incoming Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown said that Bass is bringing the needed skills, temperament and experience that the job requires. They also share a similar outlook on leadership.

This appointment is one the most critical decisions that Brown is making before assuming his role as the 22nd Chief of Staff in August.

“She is a proven leader who has performed with distinction at every step of her accomplished career,” he said. “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 started her career in 1993 at the Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina. She served at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, as the command chief master sergeant for the 17th Training Wing at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, and at the Pentagon as chief, Air Force Enlisted Developmental Education.

Service awards Bass has received include “Distinguished Graduate” from the Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy in 2009 and the 2011 Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Award for the 86th Operations Group.

“I’m honored and humbled to be selected as the 19th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, and follow in the footsteps of some of the best leaders our Air Force has ever known. The history of the moment isn’t lost on me; I’m just ready to get after it. And I’m extremely grateful for and proud of my family and friends who helped me along the way,” Bass said.

“My job will be to help set the stage for individual and team development, so our brothers and sisters are healthy, engaged and ready for the fight.”

Bass currently serves as the command chief master sergeant, Second Air Force, at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. She is the senior enlisted leader and advisor to the commander on all matters relating to professional development, proper utilization, and the readiness of the enlisted corps.

Both Bass and Brown come from Army families. Bass lived in overseas locations and stateside locations before entering the Air Force. Brown’s father is a retired Army colonel.

These assignments are making history as Brown is the first African American in history to be confirmed as a chief of staff for any branch of the U.S. military. Bass will be the first woman to serve as the senior enlisted leader for a military service.

As the pair move into their new assignments, they are confronting an Air Force in transition. The focus is shifting from combatting terrorism to preparing to confront China, Russia and other peer adversaries.

They will also be addressing resiliency across the force and reducing suicide rates.

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