A new Air Force Recruiting Service app looks to make it easier for prospective recruits to learn more about USAF and the Space Force, help connect them with recruiters, prepare them for Basic Military Training or Officer Training School, centralize Total Force recruiting information in one place, and more.
The “Aim High” app launched June 15, and is available in the iOS and Google Play app stores.
AFRS Superintendent of Innovations Chief Master Sgt. Jason O’Donley, who has led the project for about a year and a half, told Air Force Magazine the app grew out of brainstorming by former Air Education and Training Command boss (now retired) Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast.
“Gen. Kwast was definitely one of those leaders who was always looking at innovation and ways to lean forward, and so he was coming up with different ways for us to capture the best talent going … into the future,” O’Donley said.
The hype around the idea spread, and former AFRS Commander Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt eventually volunteered her team to take on the project. AFRS joined forces with AFWERX, who further connected them with a software design company, and the effort took off from there.
The goals of the Aim High endeavor were three-fold, O’Donley explained.
- It looked to make “every Airman a recruiter” by giving them a resource they could pass onto promising potential recruits to ensure they could get connected with AFRS
- It capitalizes on the experience of trainees currently completing BMT and incorporates it into the app
- Helps the service learn more about current and potential future Airmen, how to hook new talent, and how to match potential recruits with the right Air Force Specialty Codes to ensure their happiness in uniform. Users may also explore different AFSCs based on different focus areas, and learn about each one’s specific qualifications, what the requisite training for each career field looks like, and what kinds of tasks Airmen within each one would tackle.
AFRS gave approximately 150 recruiters from three squadrons—the 333rd Recruiting Squadron from Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., the 332nd RCS from Nashville, Tenn., and then the 319th RCS from Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.—a beta version of the app to use for six months, O’Donley said.
In the week leading up to the rollout, AFRS gave about 900 more recruiters a crash-course in using Aim High via Zoom, he added. While O’Donley said the app was designed to be intuitive and not require any advanced training, these training calls aimed to familiarize recruiters with specialized tools at their disposal.
The app’s communications are intentionally recruiter-centric, O’Donley explained.
“When we were thinking about creating the messaging and connection system, we weren’t trying to … create social media, and we weren’t trying to create a messaging system for people outside of the … process of joining the Air Force, if you will,” he explained.
Recruiters are the only people allowed to initiate conversations, and they maintain full control over who can be added or removed from conversation threads, O’Donley said. They can also remove recruits from group threads once they reach BMT without the conversation being discontinued as a result, he said.
“And so you can move people in and out of this conversation, but all of the information, all the goodness that was created over the last couple of months, is still captured in that,” he explained.
The app also details information on upcoming recruiting events, and features games that recruits may have encountered in the past.
AFRS sees these games as additional engagement tools, but is exploring how it might be able to tailor them so an individual’s success within a particular game might be indicative of their suitability for a particular AFSC, O’Donley said.
“The games that we’re utilizing right now don’t do that, but … if we could do that in the future, it would be amazing to show what the hand-eye skills utilized within a game could lean towards when we are determining a career field, and how they might be able to utilize those same skills,” he said.
AFRS also wants to determine what successful Airmen look like, from a data perspective, so it can start to seek out similar qualities within members of the app-user pool, O’Donley said.
Finally, he said, AFRS wants to look at app engagement data to guide future improvements to Aim High.
The app’s “Awaiting Training” section equips prospective USAF, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve recruits with tools they can use to get in better physical shape before they leave for BMT. These include:
- A 14-week training schedule
- Physical activity routines for stretching, running, push-ups, and sit-ups
- A “PT Calculator” that lets individuals see how they’d fare on the Air Force PT test
- A fitness timer and stopwatch
- Nutrition tips
- Air Force fitness standard reference information
It also provides financial readiness resources, information on religious services at BMT, drilling tutorials, packing checklists, security clearance and applicant rights information, and a section that gives people a chance to study up on hallmarks of USAF culture, including the service’s ranks and chain of command, the Airman’s creed, Air Force song, and USAF’s core values.
The app also walks users through what they can expect at each phase of OTS, including overview videos, and breakdowns of what each stage’s academic and training components look like.
Aim High also gives the public an inside look at the BMT experience, letting them search for specific flights and see photos from their training processes, and learn more about what each week of their journey roughly entails.
“We were able to start to capture what takes place so that we can ease a little bit of that anxiety for family members as they are sending their loved one off to BMT,” O’Donley explained. “But then in addition to that, we started to capture images of the flights as they go through so you can actually see your loved one go through that BMT experience when you have very limited access to them.”