Good news, airmen. The Air Force has made its first round of cuts to "additional duties," miscellaneous responsibilities typically assigned to airmen at the unit level.
The service on Friday identified 21 out of 61 duties under Air Force Instruction 38-206 they found needed to be reduced, realigned or eliminated altogether, Air Force spokesman Maj. Bryan Lewis told Air Force Times. Eight duties, such as destruction officer, records custodian and web page maintainer, have been eliminated.
"We have heard your concern and frustration," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff David Goldfein said in a memo. "In meeting with Airmen at installations around the globe, we have heard consistently that additional duties assigned at the unit level affect our ability to focus on core missions, which in turn impacts our readiness."
James and Goldfein also announced the beginning of a working task group titled "Airmen's Time," aimed to evaluate remaining extra duties and how to best address them.
In an Aug. 3 interview with Air Force Times, James said the goal is to get airmen back to their core missions without the looming, and even wasteful, tasks burdening their day-to-day lives.
"The idea is to give back some of this precious time to airmen," James said at the time. "I'm sure they all had a good reason for being when they were instituted. But the fact is, they have been increased and increased and increased to the point where, now, this is quite burdensome. Airmen say this, they've said it to me directly. We know it from our survey data as well."
The duties labeled "reassigned" will now be carried out by commander support staff, the service said in a release, "which are being re-established over time as a central part of Air Force squadrons, or through other means that do not require airmen to be pulled away from their core missions."
Reduced duties will no longer "universally apply to all units, giving commanders much more flexibility in determining what duties are necessary for their type of unit," the release said. This will also mean less training for some airmen should the duties get dropped by particular units.
The service will adhere to congressional and Defense Department policy, but will still seek out areas where it can eliminate, consolidate or streamline training requirements that have increased in recent years for additional duties.
"This, I want to emphasize, will be a first step," James said. "And it's going to be followed up by a review of computer-based training and other ancillary requirements that take up a lot of our Airmen's time."
Find out what additional duties have been cut or realigned here.
Oriana Pawlyk covers deployments, cyber, Guard/Reserve, uniforms, physical training, crime and operations in the Middle East and Europe for Air Force Times. She was the Early Bird Brief editor in 2015. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.