As the service continues to refine what is needed to develop the Airmen required to fight and win our future wars, Air Force officials announced the implementation of the Enlisted Force Development Action Plan, located at www.af.mil/Portals/1/images/news-2022/EFD-Action-Plan.pdf.
With a goal to complete 28 force development objectives in the next two years, the plan and a corresponding “Blueprint for Enlisted Force Development,” releasing in the spring, is aligned with the Air Force chief of staff’s action orders and is focused on investing in and empowering Airmen for the future fight.
“The fight for tomorrow has already begun and it will undoubtedly be fought by many Airmen who are serving today,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown Jr. “As we continue to focus on our readiness against strategic competitors, specifically China and Russia, our Airmen will need to be prepared to defeat the speed and complexity of threats we face around the globe each day. This plan is designed to do just that.”
Deliberate development of the enlisted force, which represents over 75% of the Air Force’s military personnel, means a culture of teamwork that integrates everyone’s diverse abilities, talents, and ideas is essential to maximize and deliver meaningful results.
“An environment focused on developing and managing the talents of our Airmen is key for their ability to thrive and reach their full potential,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass. “Deliberate development of the enlisted force is a mission imperative and must be a top priority for anyone who is expected to lead – from front-line supervisors to commanders.”
Soon to accompany the plan is “The Blueprint for Enlisted Force Development.” This document will serve as a living foundational resource that links all enlisted development from entry to departure, including key concepts to connect enlisted Airmen to the Profession of Arms.
“The blueprint serves as a focal point to create a shared understanding of our Air Force journey,” Bass said. “This will provide every Airman a roadmap that highlights pathways, resources and opportunities to be successful.”
The premise of the action plan is centered on six areas that align with Air Force priorities and the CSAF Action Orders, with quarterly report cards to the force for accountability and transparency on updates and progress on each area.
Supporting Action Orders Airmen and Competition, this area consists of objectives tied to developing a highly trained, educated and adaptable Airman ready to operate in a joint environment and to dominate the competition.
Initiatives include updating the “Little Blue Book,” Air Force Core Values, and “Little Brown Book,” Enlisted Force Structure, along with the creation of a “Purple Book” that includes the values, capabilities, and warfighting concepts of the Joint Force team.
Front-Line Leader Development
Supporting Action Orders Airmen, Competition and Design, this area is focused on deliberate leadership development for Airmen as they take on the increased responsibility of caring for others.
Initiatives include “The Blueprint for Enlisted Force Development,” developing validation processes for new supervisors, elevating the value placed on experience and creating a standardized Air Force writing guide.
“Saying ‘you’ll figure it out’ to new supervisors can’t be our default approach,” Bass said. “We must be more deliberate – especially when it comes to people.”
Teaming to Solve Problems
Supporting Action Orders Airmen and Competition, this focus area is centered on teaming with the ability to operate and survive in all domains.
Initiatives include training and developing Airmen at all levels to foster inclusion and value diversity, cultivate the problem-solving capabilities inherent within our people, and enable command teams to better engage with community partners and develop exercise models to increase confidence to operate under Mission Command.
“Embracing a multi-capable mindset to operate beyond traditional specialties toward the commander’s intent while decisively executing with speed, discipline, and confidence is key to the vision of the 2030 force,” Brown said. “At the same time, operating as part of a collaborative team requires Airmen to bring their unique and diverse perspectives to meet mission objectives in seizing the competitive advantage.”
Resilience is Foundational to Readiness
Supporting Action Order Airmen, this focus area supports the understanding that well-being enhances resilience and builds ready Airmen.
Initiatives include instituting “Airmen’s Time” at units to elevate connections and prioritize the well-being of Airmen, further development of wellness education programs, better utilization of Resilience Training Assistants and Master Resilience Trainers as well as financial fitness and Transition Assistance programs tailored for each tier.
“Airmen and families who are resilient and ready are the foundation of everything we do as an Air Force,” Brown said. “Prioritizing our readiness in the human domain mitigates the threats we face and keeps our enlisted force primed to compete.”
Force Development Ecosystem
Supporting Action Orders Airmen, Competition, and Design, this area is focused on opening development opportunities beyond traditional classes, courses, and schools - to provide the right content at the right time.
Initiatives include creating an Air Force-wide development plan and framework for enlisted competency progression, re-imagining enlisted professional military education to address historical gaps over a career, curating quality content, and professionalizing a larger cadre to connect development objectives to base levels.
“In order to succeed in the 21st Century fight, Airmen need an interconnected development system that supports continuous growth,” Bass said. “We have to do this by harnessing the modern capabilities that exist in the Information Age to build greater connections between initial skills, technical, and on-the-job training, education, and experiences.”
Systems to Match Values
Supporting Action Orders Bureaucracy and Design, this area is focused on reducing systems, processes, or practices that unnecessarily robs Airmen of time or stand in the way of achieving Air Force priorities.
Initiatives include transforming the Airmen feedback process, revamping enlisted performance evaluations to align with Airmen Leadership Qualities, advancing promotion testing to include situational judgment application, formalizing the career-broadening program, including developmental special duties, and improving talent management systems to capitalize on them.
“This plan is about accountability and action … not talk,” Brown said. “While we can’t do this all at once, we will not wait to begin developing the Airmen of 2030 today.”