Orlando, Fla.—It’s time the Air Force gave clear guidance on educational requirements for enlisted airmen and officers, said Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh in his address at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium here on Thursday. This would give airmen time to focus on job performance rather than box-checking for promotion requirements, which are not actual requirements. On the enlisted side, airmen are still required to complete a Community College of the Air Force degree, but not a bachelor’s degree. Enlisted airmen must attend Airman Leadership School and then the Noncommissioned Officer Academy and the Senior NCO Academy for career development. However, both the NCOA and the SNCOA will transition to a “blended learning” curriculum, said Welsh. This will shrink the length of the residence course in both schools and will not repeat material covered by correspondence. A beta test of the SNCO academy correspondence section has run, and both academies will be fully operational with the new program next spring. On the officer side, Welsh said a package has gone to the Air Force Secretary’s office to make a master’s degree a requirement for promotion to colonel. “There is no requirement to have a master’s degree to get promoted . . . but everyone thinks there’s one,” he said. Officers shouldn’t feel pressured to get a master’s degree to make major, said Welsh, noting “that’s crazy.”
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.