Military.com

Air Force Turns to Civilians to Give Squadrons Much-Needed Relief

Technical Sgt. Dustin Frey, an EOD technician, assists Jack Caylor, Northrop Grumman Remotec robotic instructor, remove a difficult component during a maintenance class at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Aug. 17, 2016. Staff Sgt. Amber Grimm/Air Force
Technical Sgt. Dustin Frey, an EOD technician, assists Jack Caylor, Northrop Grumman Remotec robotic instructor, remove a difficult component during a maintenance class at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Aug. 17, 2016. Staff Sgt. Amber Grimm/Air Force

The Air Force wants to hire another 1,600 personnel -- mostly civilians -- in an effort to provide squadrons with relief from a growing number of responsibilities.

The service on Wednesday said it plans to increase so-called commander support staff manning by 961 civilians, 469 enlisted personnel and 170 officers, bringing the total number of personnel in the function to 6,300.

The goal is to hire all 961 civilians in fiscal 2018, which begins Oct. 1.

Brig. Gen. Stephen L. Davis, director of Air Force manpower, organization and resources, will lead the initiative. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein in September announced Davis would head reshaping the function and formation of Air Force squadrons.

In August, the service began removing miscellaneous responsibilities known as "additional duties" typically assigned to airmen at the unit level. It has since cut 29 of 61 additional duties identified under Air Force Instruction 38-206, "Additional Duty Management."

But some duties were reassigned to commander support staffs. For example, the lead organizational defense travel system administrator, who approves travel orders and vouchers for unit members, realigned under CSS.

The new manpower will help lift some of the weight of those additional duties. Officials will work with major commands to assess areas of greatest need and prioritize manning, the release said.

The latest step should not to be confused with efforts by some major commands such as Air Combat Command to add extra support personnel to flying squadrons, Maj. Bryan Lewis, an Air Force spokesman, told Military.com in an email.

Units under ACC have been using contractors to "assist with operational administrative support for scheduling, standardization/evaluation, and administrative duties specific to requirements in the flying community within those specific work centers," he said.

U.S. Air Forces Europe, Pacific Air Forces, and Air Education and Training Command will begin doing the same for their fighter units in fiscal 2018.

"Several other MAJCOMs," Lewis said, are looking into using contractors in these roles and will make final decisions during fiscal 2019 budget discussions.

But additional CSS staffing must come first, Davis said.

"The CSS provides critical support to the squadron, but not all of these positions were fully funded in the past," he said in the release.

"We're fixing that and will also add new positions to increase the level of CSS support for many squadrons. Fully funding the increased CSS requirement is a key element in revitalizing Air Force squadrons," he added.

Lewis could not say by press time if the service plans to grow CSS through brand-new recruits, by moving current airmen around to these billets, or a mixture of both.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

Show Full Article

Related Topics

Air Force Civilians