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One-on-one, State Command Chief Crowson

Chief Master Sgt. Larry Crowson, the South Carolina State Command Chief talks with Airmen in his office at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Oct. 16, 2012. Crowson represents region 4 on the Enlisted Field Advisory Council, which meets three-to-four times a year to propose changes, solutions and other policy actions that imapact the 94,000 enlisted members of the Air National Guard. (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Marvin Preston/RELEASED)

Chief Master Sgt. Larry Crowson, the South Carolina State Command Chief talks with Airmen in his office at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Oct. 16, 2012. Crowson represents region 4 on the Enlisted Field Advisory Council, which meets three-to-four times a year to propose changes, solutions and other policy actions that imapact the 94,000 enlisted members of the Air National Guard. (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Marvin Preston/RELEASED)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- This month, The SCANG News sits down with Chief Master Sgt. Larry Crowson, the State Command Chief for the South Carolina Air National Guard. As the top enlisted leader in the
SCANG, Crowson is responsible to the Adjutant General and the Assistant Adjutant General-Air for quality of life issues and concerns of enlisted Airmen.

SCANG NEWS- You've been the State Command Chief since January. How's it going so far?
CHIEF CROWSON- It's been unreal and to see everything working from this level is unbelievable. The first thing I'd like to say is to thank everyone for all they're doing out there. The operations tempo has been high and is going to stay high. We (deployed) two years ago to Balad where we maintained two different airframes and then we went and did this past deployment to Afghanistan by ourselves which was a big deal. For the Airmen who sacrifice their time to do that and the time being away from their families, it's obviously more than just a job, it's a passion. Now we've got this combined Phase One/Phase Two (Operational Readiness Inspection) staring us in the face.

SCANG NEWS- Isn't it unusual for a wing to come back from a deployment and get hit with an ORI?
CHIEF CROWSON- It is unusual. But I think that's going to be the future for the Air National Guard. As airplanes taper down the demand is still going to be there. That's what we're trying to figure out how to do these (inspections) with less practices and less stress on everybody. It all comes down to our DOC (Designed Operational Capability) statement. On an AEF deployment, we might only perform a small portion of that. The IG team however wants us to prove we can do the entire DOC statement.

SCANG NEWS- You're also an advisor at the NGB level on enlisted issues right?
CHIEF CROWSON- Yes. As soon as I got this job, I wanted to get on the Enlisted Field Advisory Council (EFAC) to (Director of the ANG) General Wyatt. There are seven EFAC representatives across the country and nothing changes in the enlisted force until the seven of us vote on it and make our recommendation to the ANG Command Chief and then the ANG Director. I was appointed as the primary EFAC representative for Region Four. There are seven regions and Region Four is one of the largest people wise. General Grass was recently sworn in as the new Chief of the National Guard. To show you just how important our EFAC is, one of the first things General Grass did was to ask for inputs. From Region Four, I asked "What is the future of the Guard?" As airplanes are wearing out and not being replaced, I asked, to use a maintenance term, "What iron is going to be on the flight line?" There's 89 flying units and those flying units are the heartbeat of the Air National Guard. We fly airplanes better than anybody in the world. If you pull our best card away from us, where does that leave us?

SCANG NEWS- What are some of the issues the EFAC has been working on?
CHIEF CROWSON- For the enlisted corps in the Air National Guard, there's seven major areas. The first one is enlisted professional development or force development. In other words, what are we doing to develop our enlisted personnel? We've met at McEntire and we're going to implement what they're doing at the national level, that is, a scorecard. We're going to look at if the Airman has any in-residence PME. Have they taken any joint courses? That scorecard is coming.

The next item is EPRs for enlisted. There's a new personnel system coming out called "3-in-1" for Guard, Reserve and Active duty. When they do that it will force us into EPRs. In June 2013, EPRs will start for senior NCOs. And that will work for a year and we'll see how it goes. A year after that, the rest of the Airmen will get them. The EPRs will be every two years like the Reserves.

The next one is the CCAF Associates degree. That's coming like a freight train. That will go into effect the first of the year. There will be a two year grace period for E-8s and E-9s and there will be no waivers. I say that if you're not enrolled in the process or already have your CCAF, you're behind the power curve. I've been telling everyone this for the last ten years: The requirements to be a Senior and Chief are going to change. And what my job is as the State Command Chief is to make sure that our Airmen are changing at a pace we can do.

The next thing is ancillary training. What I mean is that they want to cut that down to give us more time to concentrate on our AFSCs.

Next, the fitness program is here to stay. If you're struggling with that you need to get in the gym. I think a lot of people thought that when we got a new Chief of Staff of the Air Force that might change. But it's not.

The next one is the enlisted grade review for E8s and E9s. The Air Force only funds one and two percent and the ANG is sitting at two and five percent. We can't keep doing that. They're pulling money from the operational side in order to pay that bill. That means (the Guard) will have fewer E8s and E9s in the future.

Lastly, there's suicide prevention. The bottom line is that (senior enlisted leaders) have got to get out of the office and be out there with the troops and be face to face with them.
That's the seven big items that we're facing for the Air Guard.

SCANG NEWS- Any closing thoughts?
CHIEF CROWSON- If you think about all this it makes sense. I mean if we truly want to be Total Force, if we want F-35s on the flight line, we've got to up our standards in the South Carolina National Guard and the National Guard. To wrap this up, General Wyatt and (Command Chief of the ANG) Chief Muncy say "We've got to tell our story." For seven percent of the budget, (the Air National Guard) provides 25 percent of the people and 40 percent of the aircraft. I say it's a great day to be a part of something as great as we are here.