I serve you: New 302nd command chief focused on people

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Heather Heiney
  • 302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The job of a command chief is technically to be an enlisted advisor to the wing commander, but most command chiefs extend far beyond that role and become advocates for the people in their wing.

The 302nd Airlift Wing’s new command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Kahn Scalise, said he wants to go beyond listening to wing members and their issues, and take action to care for his Reserve Citizen Airmen.

Scalise started his military career as an active duty Air Force vehicle operator in 1993. In 1996 he cross trained into the space operations systems career field and was stationed at Falcon Air Station, Colorado, now Schriever Air Force Base. He has spent the majority of his career in the state and was also stationed at Peterson AFB and Schriever AFB, where he currently works as a civilian contractor. He also met his wife here in Colorado.

“The active duty Air Force brought me here in 1996 while I was cross training into the space career field from my original career field which was transportation vehicle operations,” Scalise said. “I fell in love with Colorado with all its outdoor activities and beautiful scenery and I never left.”

Scalise left active duty in 1999 and began his civilian aerospace career while transitioning to the Air Force Reserve with the 310th Space Group, which actually fell under the 302nd AW at that time.

Before accepting his current position at the 302nd AW, Scalise was the individual mobilization augmentee for Chief Master Sgt. Ericka Kelly, command chief master sergeant for Air Force Reserve Command.

“Kahn's diverse career background as a squadron superintendent, flight chief and IMA to the AFRC Command Chief brings new innovation and teamwork to our outstanding wing,” said Col. James DeVere, 302nd AW commander. “With less than a month in the job, he is visible and actively striving to understand the wing's challenges and prepared to implement results.”

Scalise said that the biggest thing he took away from his time at AFRC was watching the way Kelly interacts with Airmen. He explained how she was authentic in who she is and showed she genuinely cared about each Airman. 

“When she would get in front of people and talk she would really focus on them and say, ‘I hear you and I’m here for you,’” Scalise said. “That’s what I want to do. I want to come out to you, visit your work centers, and see what you do day in and day out.”

Scalise said he wants to ensure the work environment fosters teamwork, diversity, inclusion and stimulates creativity.

“I have a leadership philosophy – I serve you, it’s not the other way around,” he said. “It is all about the team and all of us moving in the same direction and accomplishing the mission.”

To help him accomplish his part of the mission, Scalise said he balances work, health, and family. He said he works hard and focuses on those priorities to maintain a healthy lifestyle and personal wellness for his physical and mental well-being.

“Coming here reinvigorated me a little bit in terms of coming to an air wing and seeing what people do day in and day out to support the mission that we do here with the tactical airlift mission,” Scalise said.

According to Scalise, a few goals he has for his time as command chief include learning about the 302nd AW culture and what makes the people tick; making sure the wing’s Reserve Citizen Airmen have the resources they need; providing opportunities for members to enhance their career and professional development, including in-residence professional military education; and fostering a culture of mental, physical and spiritual resilience.

“Chief Scalise is an Airman of strong character and competence,” said DeVere. “A servant leader dedicated to our Airmen's future career aspirations and ensuring mission readiness.”

Scalise said that he’s excited to be at the 302nd AW and that he’s been very impressed by the all the people he’s met and the squadrons he’s visited.

“I feel like I’m home and I’m glad to be a part of the 302nd AW and their family,” he said.