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By DCMA Public Affairs
The Defense Contract Management Agency recently welcomed a new senior enlisted advisor, Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Babatunji Akande. As the agency’s top enlisted service member, he will advise Army Lt. Gen. David Bassett, DCMA director, on health, morale and utilization of enlisted military personnel assigned to DCMA. He will also make recommendations to the director on quality-of-life matters impacting military members assigned to the agency.
We recently sat down with Akande to discuss his background and future plans for the agency.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Welcome to DCMA Chief Master Sgt. Akande. Can you tell our team where you’re from, and some of your service history?
CHIEF AKANDE: I was born in Brooklyn, New York, the middle child of five boys, and grew up mainly in Nigeria. I enlisted in the Air Force in 1998 and have had many jobs at four bases before this one. I’ve also deployed numerous times in support of contingency operations, as well as peace time operations. Those deployments took me to 13 countries and gave me the opportunity to experience other cultures.
My last assignment was at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and it was my first introduction to the test and evaluation community. My background is in aircraft maintenance, mostly heavies such as bombers and intelligence platforms. We work alongside engineers, analyst, industry partners, and aviators, executing initial test and evaluation of various platforms before fielding them to the warfighters. It was a great assignment, as I was exposed to advanced technologies and capabilities before they even become a topic of discussion in the public. I was really thrilled to witness the unveiling of the B-21 Raider in Palmdale, California, as my former unit, 31 Test and Evaluation Squadron, was directly involved with daily operations at the production line before the ceremony, and is still involved ensuring safety of flight operations.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS: What is your Air Force specialty, and how has your functional experience prepared you for DCMA?
CHIEF AKANDE: Though I had other specialties over the course of my military career, my main specialty is aircraft maintenance. As a young airman, I started on the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System, knowns as AWACS. I was at it for 16 years while stationed at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma. In 2013, I was selected for a special duty to Lackland AFB as a military training instructor. This was a tough one, and not something I wanted at the time, but I accepted the challenge, and am glad I did it.
It was a very eye-opening experience for me because I saw my lows and highs during my tenure there. It was the turning point in my career, as I earned both my Master Military Training Instructor Badge (Blue Rope), and the 2016 Air Force Military Training Instructor of the Year award. In 2017, I left Lackland for Dyess AFB, Texas, where I spent five years overseeing home station and deployed operations maintenance in the B-1 and C-130 units. I was part of the B-1 unit deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, in the summer of 2018, where our team executed over 280 sorties in support of Combined Joint Task Force — Operation Inherent Resolve.
My broad experience in various units, specialties, followership, and leadership positions, as well as professional development engagements, I believe, has prepared me for this position in DCMA. Though I say ‘prepared,’ there will always be those moments where one must dig deep and collaborate to find solutions to new challenges, as we live in a dynamic world.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS: What is a lesson you learned from your Air Force experience?
CHIEF AKANDE: One thing I have learned is that ‘changes’ are the new ‘constant.’ Simply put, the comfort zone is not permanent. To be great, one must evolve with the times and prepare oneself for the inevitable. To some, it can be seen as a great thing and opportunity for growth. To others, it can be viewed as unnecessary and inconvenient. Either way, as a leader, I must view both sides and try my best to strike a balanced approach toward mission accomplishment.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS: What are you most looking forward to during your time with DCMA?
CHIEF AKANDE: First and foremost, I want to thank Lt. Gen. Bassett for selecting me for this role, and congratulate my predecessor, Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Adam Rising as he retires after 30 years of military service. As part of the command team, I look forward to working with Lt. Gen. Bassett and the rest of the senior leadership team, tapping into their many years of acquisition and leadership experience as I navigate this unique organization. I look forward to better understand the organization's processes, how DCMA supports the warfighter, and where I can apply myself to resolve or mitigate challenges in the organization for it to perform at its utmost level. I am eager to get in the trenches to understand our people and processes behind the finished product and services. I'd use the phrase ‘where the rubber meets the road.’ Coming from the maintenance world, we love the tangible things. Things you can see, feel and measure.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Senior enlisted advisors cover a range of issues, typically stated as ‘the health, welfare, professional development and utilization of the agency’s joint enlisted force.’ What does this mean to you, and where will you focus your attention?
CHIEF AKANDE: As the SEA, my top priority is our people. People are our number one asset, and if they are not at their best, our mission will suffer. Be it enlisted, officers or civilians, we are all one team, and we are here to work together to achieve that one goal – mission success. To be the best, people must do well in their personal life and their professional lives. Merging both aspects ensures we have the right input for mission success, and that is one avenue that most interests me.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS: With work-life balance in mind, tell us about Babatunji Akande outside of work … what are your interests and how do you balance your personal and professional life.
CHIEF AKANDE: I am married with three kids. My oldest daughter is a travel nurse, my son is a freshman in college, and my youngest daughter is a freshman in high school. I enjoy playing soccer and going to the gym. I have always been an active member of any community I find myself in, as I make myself available as a volunteer for community outreach programs, mostly with religious organizations and food banks.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Chief Akande, it’s been a pleasure meeting you. Welcome to DCMA.
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