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A Brief History of the Air Force’s Personnel Center

As the Air Force matured as a military organization in the mid-1950s, its personnel needs grew in tandem. This growth, along with a desire to decentralize many of its operational functions, spurred the establishment of the Air Force Military Personnel Center (AFMPC) on April 1, 1963, at Randolph AFB as a field extension for the Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel. Department of the Air Force planners believed that concentrating military personnel functions in one location would help streamline personnel processes across the service.

AFMPC went through a series of reorganizations during its formative years. First, it became a separate operating agency in 1971. Then, for a short period between 1978-1985, the Air Force integrated manpower and personnel functions at the headquarters level creating the Air Force Manpower and Personnel Center. In the end, senior leaders determined that they wanted manpower separate from personnel. As a result, the Center went back to its original name and mission, AFMPC, on January 1, 1986. AFMPC became a Field Operating Agency (FOA) in 1991.

On October 1, 1995, the contemporary Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) was born after it incorporated Civilian Personal Operations within its bailiwick. Up to that point, Civilian Personnel Operations had been under the purview of the Air Force Directorate of Civilian Personnel: initially as a direct reporting unit (July 1976 – February 1995) and then as a field operating agency called the Air Force Civilian Personnel Management Center (February – October 1995).

In the new millennium, budget and manpower constraints fueled at least two significant transformations within AFPC. The first came in the form of the consolidation of three FOAs into one “super FOA” when AFPC absorbed the Air Force Manpower Agency and the Air Force Services Agency effective June 1, 2012. Planners believed the consolidation would streamline processes, identify inefficiencies, and reduce overhead. The other transformation was internal. AFPC adopted a matrix structure using a tiered business model to maximize the resources at its disposal. This new shared service delivery model ensured collaboration between and among AFPC’s five directorates while simultaneously leveraging technology to encourage customer self-help.

Former AFPC Commander Maj Gen Alfred Stewart once called AFPC the central nervous system of the Air Force. That is an apt metaphor. AFPC executes personnel policy that affects nearly two million Airmen, Guardians, retirees, and civilians. AFPC professionals take this responsibility seriously.

They understand that AFPC’s raison d'être is taking care of Airmen, Guardians, and their families.

Through peacetime and conflict, natural disasters and global pandemics, an AFPC professional has been there to guide Total Force Airmen and Guardians through each stage of their career—from their first assignment to their last, and everywhere in between.


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