The Air Force is planning to cut some of its most commonly-required -- and often repetitive or unnecessary -- training programs in half.
In an Oct. 27 memo, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said the service studied 42 training courses -- some of which all airmen were required to do every year -- that, if taken all at once, would eat up 60 hours of an airman's time. James and Goldfein said the Air Force will cut out 15 training courses entirely and streamline or consolidate sixteen more. This will cut training time to a little less than 30 hours.
In recent months, James has made it a priority to cut back on such ancillary duties -- commonly known in the service as "queep" -- to free up more time for stretched-thin airmen struggling to keep up. In August, the first round of queep reduction targeted 21 of 61 "additional duties" that were to be reduced, realigned or -- in the case of eight duties -- eliminated altogether. These reduced training courses represent the second round of the service's effort to save airmen more time -- and let them concentrate on their real jobs.
"From reducing additional duties to reducing ancillary and computer-based training, we remain committed to a continuous journey to provide more time for airmen to focus on primary duties," James and Goldfein wrote in the memo. "It is our hope that this will also translate into more time for airmen to spend with their families who are so central to mission success."
Effective immediately, they said, airmen no longer have to complete the courses that have been completely eliminated.
But the Air Force stresses that the elimination or reduction of these courses doesn't mean the topics they cover -- on subjects as varied as how to use a fire extinguisher, spot an improvised explosive device, treat a battlefield wound, or prevent suicide -- aren't important.
As the "Airman's Time" task force surveyed nearly 25,000 airmen about these 42 courses, the service found many courses duplicated information airmen already learned in other required training, the memo said. That duplication allowed 15 courses to be cut entirely.
And in some cases, airmen may only need training in subjects during specific times, like when they're about to deploy, or need a refresher every two or three years, instead of annually.
One of the courses that's been cut is the annual mandatory fire extinguisher safety training. It will be replaced with a voluntary training opportunity at each installation during National Fire Prevention Month, as well as informational materials provided by each base’s fire chief.
The Air Force also is cutting an hour-long mentoring session on how supervisors can prevent retaliation and bullying of sexual assault victims – not because the topic isn't important, but because training on that is already included in the service's Green Dot training. And Air University. And Airman Leadership School. And the Non-Commissioned Officer Academy.
Self-aid and buddy care is another area that will be significantly streamlined under the Air Force's new plan. Today, airmen have to learn how to do things like apply a tourniquet or a hemostatic bandage on themselves or a battle buddy to treat a gunshot wound in a two-hour computer class every three years. Airmen deploying to high-threat locations also receive a two-hour hand-on training course. But for an airman whose chances of deploying are slim to none, the Air Force realized that requiring the computer-based course every three years doesn't make much sense.
Instead, the Air Force will only require airmen to take the two-hour computer-based course and the two-hour hands-on course when they're stationed at high-threat locations or when they're about to deploy. The same goes for a one-hour computer-based class on counter-improvised explosive device awareness that until now has been required every three years.
The Defense Travel System training was also massively redundant, the Air Force said. Until now, airmen have had to take two computer-based training courses – one an hour long, the other 90 minutes. The two courses will now be combined into one hour-long course.
Are these changes enough? We want to know what extra duties you would eliminate. Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter at Defense News. He previously reported for Military.com, covering the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare. Before that, he covered U.S. Air Force leadership, personnel and operations for Air Force Times.