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NEWS | July 17, 2012

USTRANSCOM Senior Enlisted Leader Visits JB Charleston

By Airman 1st Class Jared Trimarchi Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Chief Master Sgt. Martin Klukas, United States Transportation Command senior enlisted leader, connected with Airmen, Sailors and civilians during a base visit to Joint Base Charleston, July 11 to 13.

Klukas visited multiple units within the 628th Air Base Wing, 437th Airlift Wing, 315th AW, as well as the Navy Weapons Station's 841st Transportation Battalion and Army Strategic Logistics Activity Command. He was also invited to give a speech at a senior noncommissioned officer induction ceremony held July 13 at JB Charleston - Air Base.

"Joint Base Charleston has the entire mobility triangle stationed here, air, land and sea," Klukas said. "The Air Mobility units, the Army transportation components, the Navy shipping ports, train yards and prepositioning mission give Joint Base Charleston tremendous strategic capabilities."

As the USTRANSCOM senior enlisted leader, Klukas is responsible for the joint force integration, development, readiness, morale, discipline and overall health of the enlisted force. He is also the senior enlisted representative to the USTRANSCOM commander.

"I like to think of myself as the glue that connects the senior staff to the enlisted population," said Klukas. "I'm here to interact with the enlisted force, see how they are doing and find out what they know about our vision and future at USTRANSCOM."

Aligning with the beliefs of Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Roy of supervising with less technology, Klukas is a strong believer in deck-plate leadership, a Navy term for getting out and working among the troops.

"Visiting the bases under USTRANSCOM and getting out to the deck plates is a major component of my job," Klukas said. "We have upcoming challenges such as the Afghanistan draw down and the shrinking budget ahead of us, and I have to get out and get face-to-face with our warriors to ensure everyone is aware of what's coming.

"As an advisor to the commander, it's important for me to make an assessment on our enlisted force and unless I see an individual, group or team personally, it can be difficult to make an accurate decision. The advice and guidance I can give to the commander based on how I see the enlisted force is really operating, is an important task. I can't do that behind my desk."

Klukas is no stranger to a joint environment. As a tactical air control party Airman, he spent 20 years working with the Army, attended Army Ranger School, worked under the Combined Joint Task Force and attended the Navy Senior Enlisted Academy.

"Joint environments like Joint Base Charleston are a great opportunity to learn and respect the culture and traditions of various branches of service," Klukas said. "I don't see different uniform styles and colors. I see warriors, capabilities and drive. Anything we can do to add to the joint flavor in the military is a good thing."

Although Klukas never saw himself as an enlisted leader when he first joined the Air Force, he said Ranger Leadership School paved a path to get him to where he is in his career.

"Ranger School is where I was put into the big leagues of leadership education," he said. "Working in special operations requires more than management skills. It requires raw leadership and the ability to know what you have to do and 'gitty up.' Failure is not an option."

"My advice to the young leaders in the force is to take care of the warriors and their families. When you do that, life seems to take care of you."

Even though Klukas's trip to Joint Base Charleston lasted only three days, he said the team-work here is nothing short of phenomenal.

"Joint Base Charleston is a wonderful place with a great mission," Klukas said. "Dedicated warriors such as the fine Airmen, Sailors, civilians and their families make Joint Base Charleston a place I would like to visit more often."