The Air Force plans to reduce training not related to Airmen’s primary jobs in order to address concerns that excessive and non-mission related demands are impacting Airmen’s ability to focus on and accomplish their core duties, officials announced Oct. 31.
As part of ongoing efforts to take care of Airmen and revitalize squadrons, Air Force leadership recently directed the “Airmen’s Time” task force to review 42 ancillary training courses (i.e., training outside of an Airman’s core job). Functional training requirements were not part of this review.
According to the official memorandum, of those 42 courses, the Air Force will eliminate 15 stand-alone training courses and streamline 16 courses reducing associated training time.
In a recent survey, Airmen identified 10 courses as the most burdensome. The service will eliminate or significantly reduce nine of them as part of this initiative.
Air Force leaders emphasized that while this is another positive step following the recent announcement eliminating some additional duties, more work remains.
“We’ve taken some modest steps to ensure we use our Airmen’s time in the smartest way, but this is a journey,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “We’ll continue to be deliberate about what we cut or streamline, but more is required as we continue to focus our efforts on the business of warfighting, respecting our Airmen’s time, and still meeting the necessary requirements to take care of our mission and our force.”
The courses reviewed include total force awareness training, which is required of all Airmen on an annual basis; selected force training, which is targeted to specific groups, including commanders, civilians and supervisors; event-driven training, which is triggered by some event, such as moving to a new assignment or duty station; and basic Airman readiness training, which is expeditionary-focused training required of all Airmen every three years.
While each of these training modules provide important information, the review found that many of the requirements duplicated information already provided in other trainings. These reductions will, in many cases, eliminate redundant requirements across the service.
“This initiative represents the next step in giving time back to our Airmen,” said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. “All these training requirements were created to provide valuable information to our Airmen. The intent was right, but as the lists of requirements increased, our Airmen spent more time away from their core duties.”
Reducing ancillary training, according to Air Force leadership, is not intended to reduce emphasis on the need to have well-trained and educated Airmen. Instead, the effort is specifically designed to give the Air Force greater flexibility in how it meets and implements these requirements.
“Our Airmen are certainly busy, and that dynamic will likely not decrease in the foreseeable future. We understand that dynamic, and we’re willing to accept some risk where we can to better balance our Airmen’s time,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody. “Computer-based training impacts our Airmen’s time, so we’re looking at what we can eliminate, consolidate or substantially relax to cut the demand.”
The Air Force believes the initiative will benefit the total force by not only allowing active-duty Airmen more time to focus on their core mission but also giving Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Airmen more time to focus on honing their core skill sets during drill, unit training assembly and annual tour periods. The initiative builds upon a similar effort from the Guard in 2015.
“Our Airmen have repeatedly stepped up to increased deployment tempos and manpower shortages,” Goldfein said. “Reducing the number of hours our Airmen spend on non-critical training requirements goes directly to the heart of secretary James’s priority of taking care of Airmen and our efforts to revitalize the squadron and is another small step in the right direction. Squadrons are the engines of innovation and esprit de corps and the warfighting core of our Air Force, and today, we are giving back time so our Airmen can better focus on their core mission.”
Changes will be implemented between January and April 2017; however, Airmen are no longer required to complete the courses set for elimination. To ensure the revisions are implemented in a timely manner, all applicable Air Force instructions will be updated to reflect these changes no later than Jan. 1, 2017, and the Advanced Distributed Learning Service will be updated no later than April 1, 2017.
Headquarters Air Force will also establish a screening process to review new policies in order to identify areas that create additional duties or training requirements for Airmen in units. The goal is to prevent unchecked growth of these functions in the future