161 ARW Appoints First Female Command Chief

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Michael Matkin
  • 161st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
The 161st Air Refueling Wing, Phoenix held a command chief assumption of responsibility here, June 7, 2014.

Chief Master Sgt. Martha Garcia, leading as the unit's first female command chief, assumed responsibility of the Wing's enlisted force. As command chief, she advises the commander on all matters concerning the health, morale, welfare and effective utilization of more than 700 enlisted airmen.

Speaking at the ceremony, Col. Gary Brewer, commander of the 161 ARW, spoke about why Garcia was selected as the Wing's command chief. He said what truly resonated with him was her passion for the Airmen and the Wing's mission.

"She's not just about building relationships, she's about accountability," said Brewer.

He emphasized how accountability and the core values are important to everything we do.

"Senior enlisted advisors should always talk about and embody the core values as they summarize what we need to do to be successful as an organization and as Airmen," said Brewer.

He finished his remarks by saying, "I am thrilled to have her as our new command chief. I'm honored to work with her and I look forward to the years ahead."

After Brewer's remarks, Garcia also spoke to the audience.

"I am both honored and excited to serve as your Wing command chief," she said. "My commitment to you is to continue to serve you with integrity and honor."

Speaking directly to the enlisted force she said, "I am truly humbled and look forward to the opportunity to serve as your enlisted voice. I look forward to meeting and building relationships with each of you. You are important, what you do is important and how you do it is critical to our success. Together, we will meet and exceed the expectations that have been set."

Garcia joined the Army National Guard shortly after she graduated from high school. She had planned to take an internship, but after meeting with a recruiter she was inspired to join.

"I felt like joining the Guard would give me the opportunity to experience different cultures and go to new places," she said. "I am an Arizona native and, at the time, I hadn't really been outside of the state."

She said that after her six year commitment to the Army, she decided to join the Air National Guard and the 161 ARW.

She said of the all the different jobs she has had while serving at the 161 ARW, the one that prepared her to assume the role of command chief was her time as the administrative assistant for the Wing commander.

"I was able to see the purpose of the entire Wing; why we are here, how entwined we are and how well the unit, as a whole, works together."

She said that working together is more important than ever as the military culture is changing and with that change comes challenges.

A portion of this change in culture is her promotion to command chief, as Garcia is the Wing's first female command chief.

She said the message her promotion sends to women is that anything is possible.

"We have come a long way as female [service] members in the military. We continue to excel and that is going to give future leaders, female leaders, the courage and the confidence to hold these senior positions."

"As the first female [161 ARW] command chief, definitely some weight has been added to my shoulders, but I have confidence that the airmen of the [161 ARW] will help me carry that weight," she added.

Garcia said her promotion sends the message that the 161 ARW is willing to take a risk, a risk to change history.

"Females are being given the opportunity to show that they can be just as good as their male counterparts," said Garcia. "I am excited and thrilled to begin serving the 161 ARW."