Though airmen in less critical specialties have the opportunity to cross-train to areas where the Air Force is feeling more of the squeeze, it is essential that they have some experience in their new area, said CMSAF James Cody at ASC16. The Air Force may need more tech sergeants and staff sergeants in fields such as maintenance, but “I need them [to be] … experienced in maintenance,” he told reporters on Wednesday. There has to be a balance when it comes to retraining because it’s targeted by grade, he said. Cody used an example of a medical tech wanting to cross-train to maintenance: Even if that med tech is at a rank of E-7 but has no maintenance experience, he or she will “have to become a 3-level, get the 5-level upgrade, [and] get the experience,” he said. It’s great to have support-type airmen cross-trained, but they need to perform at their skill level regardless of their rank, he said. “It’s still about doing the job [and] the rank isn’t the job.”
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.