The Air Force will unveil a new enlisted force development strategy this summer to try to help Airmen get the most out of their Air Force careers, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass said April 19, in a virtual chat with Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr.
“It’s really about talent management,” Brown said. “It’s not just a promotion system and our special duty assignments, but it’s really the approaches we take to ensure each of our career fields allow you each to get to your full potential,” Brown said. “It’s about us thinking differently about how we manage that talent.”
Air Force retention is higher today than at any point in the past 20 years, Brown said. Largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, USAF is about 3,000 Airmen over end strength.
The overage might have been higher, Bass said. A series of voluntary separation opportunities that rolled out in January, including an expanded Palace Chase program for transferring into the Reserve, aim to help the force manage the number of enlisted members and officers in order to get down to its target size.
At the same time, even though the overall force is too large, some specialties are still short-handed, Bass acknowledged. That means cross training will offer some Airmen the chance to stay, but in a different job.
“What I love is we have a ton of synergy, probably more now than ever, with how we develop officers, enlisted, and our civilians,” Bass said. “We’re challenging the status quo on all things. Talent management, you know: How do we bring in some of the best talent in the United States Air Force? [And] once we have that talent in, how do we train, educate, develop, and retain that talent? And, then also, when it’s time to take this uniform off, how do we make sure that our Airmen are ready and able to transition and be their very best [as civilians]? Those are some of the things I’ve been focused on for the past eight months.”