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New command chief ready to lead from front

Chief Master Sergeant SaRita L. Lathan, 48th Fighter Wing command chief

Chief Master Sergeant SaRita L. Lathan, 48th Fighter Wing command chief

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- New 48th Fighter Wing Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. SaRita Lathan, arrived less than a month ago and is already impressed with what she's seen.

"This is a very busy base, but I notice a lot of the Airmen have that sense of urgency," said Chief Lathan. "Everybody is on point. I have seen nothing that tells me they aren't on their A-game."

Master Sgt. Edward Perry, 48th Component Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, said Chief Lathan has been well-received by the enlisted force.

"Her vector is correct with regards to Airmen and their needs," he said. "She's a solid chief."

Chief Lathan described what her goal is for her tour at the Liberty Wing.

"Making sure the wing commander's goals are being met, that's definitely number one," she said. "I'm not here to change anything. I'm here to continue the same standards the Liberty Wing has already established to make it the best wing in USAFE."

In order to meet that goal, Chief Lathan intends to spend a lot of time getting out of her office and meeting Airmen.

"I enjoy talking to people," said Chief Lathan, "I can't do my job sitting behind my desk. The Airmen need to see me out and see that I care about what they're doing."

While Airmen should expect her to listen to their concerns, Chief Lathan spelled out what she expects from all levels of the enlisted force.

"Airmen should understand that when an NCO asks you to do something, you do it. It might be an inconvenience, but get it done," she said.

At the same time, Chief Lathan expects the NCOs, first sergeants and supervisors to set the examples and motivate the junior members.

"You are here to set and enforce the standards," she said to a gathering of first sergeants. "I need you out there, but we need to be meeting the standards too."

While she started her career in the communications field, prior to her arrival at Lakenheath Chief Lathan served as a group superintendent at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

"Lackland was an awesome assignment, being the 'Gateway to the Air Force,'" she said as she spoke of the discipline trainees showed upon completing basic training, which she sees continued in the attitude of Airmen here.

Chief Lathan also recently served as the superintendent of the 379th Mission Support Group in Southwest Asia, an experience she said set her up for success in her first command chief assignment.

"You learn different people's jobs," said Chief Lathan. "Being in a mission support group downrange definitely helped a lot, because I had the opportunity to work with the operations group, the maintenance group [and] the med group. It shows you how other functions of the base work, so you are not just in your 'pigeonhole' AFSC."

While Chief Lathan intends to take every opportunity to talk with Airmen and learn what issues need to be addressed, she has no problem being told about an issue that might escape her attention.

"It's my job to make sure Airmen and their families are taken care of," she said. "My door is always open. If you don't see me taking care of you the way I should be, by all means come through the door and let me know."