Air Force chooses first woman to serve as top enlisted leader: ‘The history of the moment isn’t lost on me’

News

The U.S. Air Force has made history twice this month with its latest appointees.

The Air Force on Friday selected Chief Master Sgt. JoAnne S. Bass to be its next chief master sergeant, the first woman to serve as its top enlisted leader. Bass, whose mother is Korean, is also the first Asian-American to hold the position, the Air Force Times reported.

Her appointment comes less than two weeks after the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Gen. Charles Q. Brown on June 9 to be the Air Force’s 22nd chief of staff. He will be the first Black person to lead a U.S. military service.

It was Brown who appointed Bass as the 19th chief master sergeant, calling it one of his most critical decisions before taking office in August, according to the news release.

“I could not be more excited to work side-by-side with Chief Bass,” Brown said in a statement. “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, who joined the Air Force in 1993, currently serves as the Second Air Force’s Command Chief Master Sergeant at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi. She will be the first woman to serve as the highest ranking non-commissioned member of a U.S. military service.

“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,” Bass was quoted by the Air Force Times. “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 has served in Germany and held senior positions in Texas and at the Pentagon.

Brown and Bass will work on the military service’s transition from combating terrorism to preparing to confront China, Russia and other adversaries, according to the news release.

They will also be responsible for addressing racial disparities within the military service, which has recently acknowledged racial bias. Records show that young enlisted Black airmen were twice as likely to face punishment as their white counterparts.

Contributing: Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY.

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