As Bass Bids Farewell, New CMSAF Flosi Urges Airmen To ‘Make Every Day Count’

On his first day as the new top enlisted Airman, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force David Flosi urged his colleagues not to waste a moment as the Air Force makes sweeping changes to prepare for a possible conflict with China or Russia.

“I’m committed to ensuring our Air Force is prepared to meet these challenges head-on,” Flosi said at a change of responsibility ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., on March 8. “Every day matters, and we must make every day count.”

The ceremony marked the retirement for Flosi’s predecessor, former CMSAF JoAnne Bass, who made history as the first woman to serve as highest senior enlisted member of a U.S. military branch, and the first person of Asian-American descent to become Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. The ceremony took place exactly 31 years after Bass first joined the Air Force in 1993.

“I said this several years ago at the change of responsibility ceremony, and it still holds true today: without a doubt, Chief Master Sergeant Jo Bass was the right chief,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., who hired Bass as CMSAF in 2020 when he was Air Force Chief of Staff. 

“She blended vast experience, expertise, empathy, an impeccable moral character, and a resolute will to succeed,” said the general, who was the first Black service chief in U.S. military history. 

“Jo, I’m so glad I hired you,” he added later. “You’ve been an inspiration to me. We were able to break barriers together. You’ve been an inspiration to our Air Force, you’ve been an inspiration to our nation.”

cmsaf bass
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass receives a brief from the 334th Training Squadron at the Levitow Training Support Facility on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, Dec. 19, 2023 (U.S. Air Force photos by Senior Airman Trenten Walters)

Bass’ accomplishments as CMSAF include creating the service’s first ever Enlisted Force Development Action Plan, reforming the dress and appearance standards to encourage more diversity in the Air Force, rolling out a Spectrum of Resilience to navigate mental and physical health resources, and helping establish Fortify the Force, a volunteer group for improving quality of life in the Air Force and Space Force. 

Beyond those efforts, Bass helped revamp professional military education for enlisted Airmen and published three guides meant to help Airmen of all ranks understand the Air Force and the wider joint force. The updated “Brown Book” is about the enlisted force structure and how Airmen can prepare for an Air Force career. The updated “Blue Book” is about the service’s institutional values, complete with updates on combating sexual harassment, assault, discrimination, and bullying. The new “Purple Book” explains how airpower works in a joint warfighting strategy. 

“While we’ve been focused in orienting to our most sophisticated peer and near peer adversaries, we’ve also spent a lot of time focusing on elevating the strategic IQ of our force, by ensuring that every Airman understands what is at stake today and in the future,” Bass said at the ceremony.

CMSAF 19 also advocated for child care as “a readiness issue” and pushed lawmakers to modernize the military’s systems for setting pay and compensation and basic allowance for housing. In her farewell speech, Bass left behind three points for Airmen: be your best: move the ball forward, and take care of one another.

“Every single day we ought to be asking ourselves, ‘Am I my best? Am I moving the ball and am I making a difference? And am I taking care of my fellow wingmen, my friends, my brothers, my sisters, my neighbors?” she said. “I tried to do this every day as your Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. And I ask you to look in the mirror and ask yourself the very same thing.”

new CMSAF Flosi
Chief Master Sgt. David Flosi, Air Force Materiel Command command chief, gives opening remarks during AFMC’s Annual Excellence Awards medallion ceremony, March 22, 2022 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. U.S. Air Force photo by Jaima Fogg

Now it’s Flosi’s turn to take up the CMSAF mantle at a time when his new boss, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin, wants to rapidly change how the Air Force deploys troops, develops new systems, trains Airmen, and achieves air superiority.

“We’re going to have to break some china if we’re going to break some China,” Allvin said. “Implementation is not going to be an easy thing … I need that teammate who’s going to walk into my office, if I’m heading the wrong direction and maybe a little bit too stubborn in my path and say, ‘I’m hearing some things, we might have a better idea.’”

Flosi is that teammate, the general said.

“He is principled, without being inflexible. This is exactly what we need,” Allvin said. “All of those attributes are there. And so while all the candidates were so compelling, it was a pretty easy pick for me, quite frankly.”

Indeed, Flosi told Air & Space Forces Magazine that one of his most valued traits as a leader is the ability to “seek first to understand.” Bass agreed with Allvin.

“Chief Flosi is absolutely the right leader we need as we continue to transform and re-optimize our force,” she said. “Dave, your experiences within the Air Force enterprise and Air Force Materiel Command is invaluable as we reorient to this new threat. You are a thought leader who discerns and leads with heart.”

It helps that Flosi and Bass share a favorite football team: the Kansas City Chiefs.

“He knows what a winning team is,” she said, “so that’s a good thing.”