The Department of the Air Force is committed to recruiting talented and qualified individuals, while retaining the experienced Airmen and Guardians currently serving.
Throughout the upcoming months, a Barriers to Service Cross-Functional Team, championed by Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David W. Allvin, is examining existing policies and procedures to ensure they reflect the service members needed for the future.
Created to rally various department stakeholders, this cross-functional team was charged to research, plan and execute these changes quickly, cut through bureaucracy, with the modern American in mind.
“America’s Air Force and Space Force rely on access to our nation’s extensive, geographically and demographically diverse talent,” said Alex Wagner, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. “To remain competitive, both with the private sector and our fellow military services, we are re-examining and updating our approach to talent sourcing and management—and that requires constant review and re-evaluation of our accession policies and ensuring that any changes are consistent with those high military standards required for mission accomplishment.”
This approach became a reality when various stakeholders realized these opportunities would need supporting policy, guidance, resources, and legal authorization. Additionally, the team is currently executing a comprehensive policy review to identify existing requirements that disqualify many potential Airmen and Guardians from serving and are irrelevant to warfighting.
“While we met our active-duty recruiting goals last year, record-low unemployment rates and steadily declining familiarity with the U.S. military today leaves us uncertain whether we can achieve our goals this year,” said Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas, Air Force Recruiting Service commander. “We are starting to see some positive results of our training program, policy changes and our enhanced marketing efforts, but military recruiting will remain a long-term challenge.”
One of the leading barriers currently being tackled is the increased prevalence of hand and neck tattoos among America’s youth. Previously, Air Force policies permitted ring tattoos, although they were limited to a single band on one hand. Now, in addition to the ring tattoo, a single tattoo is authorized on each hand not exceeding one inch in size.
Additionally, one tattoo on the neck is authorized not exceeding one inch in measurement. The neck tattoo will only be placed behind a vertical line at the opening of the ear orifice around the back to a vertical line at the opening of the other ear orifice and includes behind the ear.
Hand, arm, leg, neck, and ring tattoos can be exposed and visible while wearing any uniform combination. Chest and back tattoos will not be visible through any uniform combination or visible while wearing an open collar uniform.
Tattoos or body markings anywhere on the body that are obscene, commonly associated with gangs, extremist, and/or supremacist organizations, or that advocate sexual, racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination are prohibited in and out of uniform. The updated policy is here.
Additional items senior leaders are looking to modernize are:
- Accelerating Naturalization at Basic Military Training
- Reinstating the Enlisted College Loan Repayment Program
- Adding additional funds to Initial Enlistment Bonuses
- Alignment of the DAF’s Accession Body Fat Composition Standard with OSD Guidance
More information on policy and accessions changes will be published when available.