WASHINGTON — Airmen need more time to focus on their core missions.
Air Force senior leaders said that’s the message they received from Airmen and it’s the reason they made the decision to reduce additional duties.
In a memorandum to Airmen released Aug. 19, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein announced the service has established a task force titled “Airmen’s Time,” charged with streamlining, and in some cases eliminating, additional duties.
“We have heard your concern and frustration,” James and Goldfein said in the memo. “In meeting with Airmen at installations around the globe, we have heard consistently that additional duties assigned at the unit level affect our ability to focus on core missions, which in turn impacts our readiness.”
After conducting a review of the duties under the direct control of the Air Force, the task force was able to eliminate, reassign or reduce 29 of 61 specific duties identified under Air Force Instruction 38-206, “Additional Duty Management.”
Reassigned duties will be carried out by commander support staff, which are being re-established over time as a central part of Air Force squadrons, or through other means that do not require Airmen to be pulled away from their core missions.
Over the last several years, the Air Force began adding support manpower to squadrons to help relieve some administrative burdens, but it will take time before most units are able to begin absorbing some of the reassigned additional duties.
For additional duties being transferred to the CSS work center, further action is required to document the workload requirement in manning standards, fund sufficient manpower resources, and accomplish required training to execute these duties.
“Until the new CSS decisions are implemented and CSS manning is healthy, commanders are empowered at all levels to consolidate CSS-assigned duties as appropriate, and discontinue non-critical duties beyond their ability to resource,” they said.
Those duties being reduced will no longer universally apply to all units, giving commanders much more flexibility in determining what duties are necessary for their type of unit, thereby reducing the need to train Airmen on functions that aren’t needed in a particular unit.
Simultaneous to the revision of the instructions, the inspector general will begin to make updates to inspection checklists to reflect modifications to the AFI. Additionally, beginning this fall, the Air Force will establish a new screening process to review new policies and identify areas creating additional duties for Airmen with the goal of preventing unchecked growth of these functions in the future.
James understands there is more work to be done.
“This, I want to emphasize, will be a first step,” James said. “And it’s going to be followed up by a review of computer-based training and other ancillary requirements that take up a lot of our Airmen’s time.”
According to the memo, the service will focus on duties originating in law and Defense Department policy, and emphasize areas where the Air Force can eliminate, consolidate or streamline training requirements that have increased in recent years.
“Our squadron commanders, civilian leaders, superintendents, first sergeants, and Airmen feel firsthand the challenges associated with increased mandatory recurring training, a growing list of additional duties, and the challenge of a “do-it-yourself world,” Goldfein said. “It is time to revitalize the squadron as the warfighting core of our Air Force.”
The full list of additional duties impacted is available at http://www.af.mil/Portals/1/documents/SECAF/160819_Fact_Sheet.pdf?ver=2016-08-19-123457-803.