The U.S. Air Force became the first U.S. military branch to select a woman to serve as the highest-ranking noncommissioned officer.
Chief Master Sgt. JoAnne Bass will become the 19th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. She will succeed Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright, who is expected to retire on August 14. Wright has held the top NCO position since 2017.
Bass is currently the Command Chief Master Sergeant, Second Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi. In her current role, she provides support to 13,000 enlisted, officers, civilians, contractors, and 36,000 basic military trainees per year.
“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 said in a press release.
“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.”
“Airmen are counting on leaders like me to make a positive impact in their lives,” Bass said in a video posted on social media. “I owe them my best.”
The incoming Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown, said Bass was selected because of her skills, temperament, experience, and a leadership style similar to his own.
Brown, was confirmed by the Senate earlier in June as the first African American to serve as the top uniformed officer for any of the military branches. Brown will become the branch’s 22nd Chief of Staff in August, succeeding Gen. David Goldfein
“I could not be more excited to work side-by-side with Chief Bass,” Brown said. “She has unique skills that will help us both lead the Total Force and live up to the high expectations of our Airmen.”
“She is a proven leader who has performed with distinction at every step of her accomplished career,” he added. “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 was the Air Force’s “consensus choice out of more than a dozen candidates from across the Air Force’s global operation,”, the Air Force said in a statement. She will advise Brown and Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett on the best use of the service’s 410,000 enlisted members and on issues regarding welfare, readiness, and morale. She will also help in overseeing the shift from counter-terrorism operations to preparing the service for near-peer threats posed by China, Russia, and other adversaries, the Air Force said.
Bass said that the bar for her and Brown was set high, acknowledging the standard set by Wright and Goldfein.
“CMSAF Wright and Team 18 have set a pretty high bar, but I know that Team 19 will rise to the occasion. 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 said.
Bass enlisted in the Air Force in 1993 and served as an operations system management journeyman at the former Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina, the Air Force Times wrote. She deployed in support of operations Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. According to her official biography, she was later stationed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, as the Command Chief Master Sergeant for the 17th Training Wing.
She was named Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year in 2011 while stationed at Ramstein Air Base.