As the Air Force transitions to a smaller force, CMSAF James Cody reminded attendees at AFA’s 2013 Air and Space Conference at National Harbor, Md., on Wednesday that he is trying to focus on three variables: training, education, and experience. He said he wants to balance these for the future force. This applies to how the service is reforming its developmental special duties for the noncommissioned officer corps, where junior NCOs are identified in their respective career fields and placed in assignments to broaden their experience. Calls for nominations across the force went out this month, and the Air Force has altered the process it has traditionally used, now requiring supervisor and commander approval for an airman to move into these special assignments. “There are lots of questions; there are people concerned because they used to be able to volunteer,” said Cody to reporters after his speech. The difference is now they need a nomination, and this forces a good conversation across the service, he said. “If [supervisors] think they are the right fit, they will say you’re good for it. But, on the other side, maybe they need to have the conversation that says maybe you’re not ready yet,” said Cody. “I think it drives good behaviors, because it forces that discussion.” He said there is a sense across the enlisted force that “we are investing in these folks because we want them to stay in and help lead the force.” He told reporters: “This gives our Air Force options, about how you use people.”
Unlike nearly every other innovative technology throughout history, Maj. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt believes the space enterprise emerged backward. “Every other domain started with an entrepreneur who built something,” Burt, the special assistant to the Chief of Space Operations, told an audience at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference.