JACKSONVILLE, FLA. — The third round of selections for special duty assignments is set to kick off next month, with commanders expected to nominate staff sergeants, technical sergeants and master sergeants for assignments that used to be filled by volunteers.
The Air Force in fall 2013 began to have commanders select airmen for 10 special duty jobs after struggling to find enough volunteers to fill the positions, such as recruiters, professional military education instructors and first sergeants. The Air Force selected 1,000 airmen in the first round in November, and expected to select a few hundred fewer in the second round earlier this year. The Air Force is expected to release the results of the second round in the last week of August.
Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Education and Training Command, said that the benefits have so far been “huge,” with the Air Force already increasing its cadre of military training instructors by 150, increasing first sergeant manning and placing new, quality professional military education instructors.
“We were relying on volunteers, but the last time I checked, we were all volunteers,” Rand said Wednesday at the Air Force Sergeants Association conference here.
Selected airmen spend three years in their special duty assignments, and will be “recognized for the performance you did and go back as better NCOs and senior NCOs,” Rand said.
“You will be taken care of as long as you do your part,” Rand said. “If any of you want to be one of those, come talk to us. We still want volunteers, but [selection] now has to be a cumulative, functional commander process that we work together.”
The 10 special duty jobs are: recruiters, professional military education instructors, first sergeants, career assistance advisers, military training instructors, military training leaders, noncommissioned officer Air Force Academy military trainers, airmen and family readiness center NCOs, NCO honor guard members, and specialty training instructors identified with a T prefix.
In the first round, commanders nominated 7,500 airmen, of whom 1,000 were selected for special duty beginning between April and September of this year. Selected airmen receive up to $450 per month in special duty pay, depending on assignment, but those pays may change in fiscal 2015. According to a draft plan obtained by Air Force Times in May, the Air Force may reduce MTI pay from $450 per month to $300. Recruiters also would see a $150 per month reduction under the plan, which has not yet been approved.
There has long been a gap in some of the special duty assignments, Rand said. He pointed to his time as commander of 12th Air Force from December 2011 to September 2013, when, he said, he was lucky to have first sergeant manning at 65 percent. The new process ensures that these numbers are higher, but it is also requires that commanders select the best.
“We are going to select the best. Those of you with master sergeant stripes on, senior, chief stripes on. I’m calling you out,” Rand said. “Do not nominate a half stepper. All you do is constipate the system and slow it down.”