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Giving Airmen time back

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Improvements in technology, review of manpower solutions and additional duty workload, and refining ancillary training topped the recommendations presented to Lt. Gen. Richard Newton III, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, by a team he chartered to find what impacts Airmen's time.

In August, the team spoke to Airmen on 10 bases in Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and continental United States to determine what programs and duties are taxing both squadron commanders and Airmen with a focus on personnel and administrative workload, additional duties and ancillary training.

Among the team's findings, the impact of force shaping on personnel and information managers put residual administrative duties on squadron commanders and their Airmen who were not equipped to handle the workload. Additionally, the steady growth in ancillary training requirements have strained the time available for core work and are frequently being accomplished outside of regular duty hours.

"In the past, our Airmen were able to make the Air Force's garrison model work. However, with today's war and our expeditionary focus, quality of work-life is being impacted by a number of time consuming duties and training events," said Mr. Mark Doboga, director of personnel programs integration and the leader of the assessment team. "This team believes that the effective use of Airmen's time can be improved."

Actions are already taking place to better posture squadron commanders and Airmen with the resources and education they need to accomplish their core mission. A big focus will be to make improvements to fielded technology making it more intuitive for all who use these instruments. Beginning this month and into the new year, the Air Force Personnel Center is reinvigorating its "spread the word" campaign to increase understanding of how assignments, civilian personnel, Air and Space Expeditionary Force and other programs work and where they fit into the process. Along with this, the people on AFPC's "spread the word" will go into the work place at bases to ensure those involved in these programs have the latest information on policy and processes.

Also, the Air Force Manpower Agency is conducting a focused review of non-value added additional duties in order to reduce their quantity and time required to perform each. The director of manpower, organization and resources will serve as the gatekeeper of additional duties and will set review guidelines geared to keep non-value added additional duties at the minimum.

Along those lines, following recent reductions in ancillary training, a new oversight body at Headquarters Air Force, was established to review career field requirements. This body will ensure senior leader oversight of all ancillary training requirements, current and emerging, to prevent the unconstrained growth which impacted Airmen's time.

"Our objective is to produce an actionable way ahead that provides our Airmen more time to focus on their primary mission," said Mr. Doboga. "While we must train for the mission we must also tailor that training, and while all Airmen will find themselves doing some administrative and personnel work, the preparation, flow and disposition should not be a constant frustration."

In addition to assessing the strains on Airmen's time, the team also searched for best practices and smart ideas that improve efficiency. In total, they collected 14 of these better business solutions which will be further developed and shared throughout the Air Force.