Sept. 15, 2011 —
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Army Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Winzenried assumed the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command’s top enlisted post today in a ceremony at the commands’ headquarters Sept. 15.
Winzenried succeeds Command Chief Master Sgt. Allen Usry, who retired after 29 years of service in the same ceremony.
A combat engineer by trade, Winzenried calls himself a “simple guy used to blowing stuff up,” who would rather hear about the mission from the person performing it than through a powerpoint presentation. It’s a preference that makes up a major part of his leadership philosophy.
“In any job, especially when you get to the senior level, you have to get out and visit the servicemembers and DoD civilians that make up the command,” he said. “I love to talk to people. I don’t like dog-and-pony shows, and I don’t need powerpoint slides. I want to hear from the servicemembers. That’s how I see how well they understand their roles and missions and how they support the commands.”
Winzenried said he has high expectations from the members of NORAD and USNORTHCOM, particularly the enlisted members.
“Everything I’ve heard and seen here tells me this is a very professional, very competent enlisted force that truly understands what their role is here at NORAD and USNORTHCOM,” he said. “What I expect from everyone who works here is that they’re professional, that they treat people with dignity and respect, and that at the end of the day, we look forward to coming to work here.”
Winzenried said he plans to spend the first 60 days of his tour at NORAD and USNORTHCOM visiting the component commands and getting a feel for the mission.
“My goal is to get out because as a senior enlisted advisor to the commander, I can’t advise him on how the command is doing from sitting in this office,” he said. “The only way to do that is to get out and talk to folks. I plan on staying very busy.”
The new CSEL said he’s excited to be able to work with the NORAD and USNORTHCOM team and understands the stakes involved with their missions.
“I can’t imagine a more important position for a senior enlisted leader than this one,” he said. “The American people have their full faith, trust and confidence that every day we’re doing what we need to do to protect these countries, and I think there’s no higher calling than that. What we do here, no matter what your job is, the end result of that job is that we’re protecting our countries.”
At the same ceremony that began Winzenried’s tour at NORAD and USNORTHCOM, Usry ended his and a military career of more than 29 years in two service branches.
Usry, who said he plans to move to Florida with his wife, Melanie, said working at the commands was one of the highlights of his career.
“This is what the definition of bittersweet is,” Usry said. “I’m excited about the next phase of my life, but everything in the last couple of months has been my last this or my last that. This is what I’ve done since I was 18 years old. I can’t believe it’s over.”
Usry offered a last bit of advice to the NORAD and USNORTHCOM enlisted members.
“While you are doing all the things that are required to make you a successful Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, Coast Guardsman or Canadian Forces member, don’t forget that you also have to develop personally,” he said. “I’ve always promoted fitness, finances and education. Take care of your health, stay fit, have a financial plan for your future and walk out with an education. While you’re taking care of the military don’t miss the opportunity to let the military take care of you.”
After 29 years in the Air Force and Marine Corps, Usry said it’s the camaraderie among the enlisted corps that have been the high points of his career.
“As much as I love the mission here, it’s the stuff we’ve done as an enlisted corps that I’ll miss the most,” he said.