Force support officers represent flexibility in changing environment

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Responding to evolving needs from the field has prompted several transformations in the manpower, personnel and services community over the past few years, including the recent stand up of an initial skills training course for force support officers.

"Our Air Force officers are showing great initiative and drive as they transition into the role of force support officers," Mark Doboga, director of Plans and Integration at the Pentagon, said of the 38F IST course participants at Keesler AFB, Miss. "It's this adaptability in our Air Force men and women that will help us succeed in meeting the changing needs of our Total Force Airmen, their families and commanders at home and in contingency operations."

In 2006, Air Force officials began merging the manpower, personnel and services career fields to streamline programs responsible for "all things people," from taking care of families to working assignments and everything in between.

On Oct. 31, services joined with the previously-merged manpower and personnel career fields, forming the 38F Force Support Officer Air Force Specialty Code.

To facilitate the integration, the first FSO IST course was offered in October. It is now in its second iteration of students.

The course brings together skill sets from all three legacy career fields in order to give graduates a broader scope of knowledge, making them even more valuable to Airmen and commanders.

The course also includes a one-week field training exercise. This capstone event allows students to apply their new skill sets in a deployed environment. The contingency exercise also ensures students are deployment-ready when they return to their bases.

"It is important we give our new officers a strong foundation for success. The Keesler school house has made that a priority. We are producing officers with a broad background, ready to provide excellent service to our Airmen," said Brig. Gen. Darrell Jones, director of Force Management Policy at the Pentagon.

During a recent visit to the schoolhouse, General Jones and Mr. Doboga participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially dedicate the newly renovated hallway for the IST course.

"Everything in our seven classrooms and two offices were modernized for this course, from the tile to the recessed lighting," said Capt. Michael Stone, Force Support Training Flight Commander for the 335th Training Squadron. "We expect to occupy all seven classrooms when we hit maximum student capacity this summer."

The maximum student load for the FSO course is 100 students.

To ensure FSOs as ready to serve as key advisors for their commanders, the course is designed to be fluid and responsive to feedback from the area of responsibility and home base.

"Keeping our curriculum reflective of the career field in its most current state will require constant communication between the schoolhouse, Air Force Personnel Center, Air Force Manpower Agency, Air Force Services Agency and the Air Staff," said Captain Stone. "We're looking forward to their comments."

For more information on the new AFSC, visit your Force Support Squadron or call the Total Force Service Center at 800-525-0102 or DSN 665-5000.