The Air Force hopes to have about 1,917 enlisted airmen retrain into 95 undermanned career fields, according to a Nov. 10 list obtained by Air Force Times.
The fiscal 2017 Non-Commissioned Officer Retraining Program, or NCORP, also needs airmen to retrain out of 292 enlisted positions in 20 overmanned Air Force specialty codes.
That is higher than the 1,801 retraining-in slots in 59 undermanned career fields that were at one point on the list for the 2016 NCORP, but less than the 491 retraining-out slots in 13 overmanned career fields.
The Air Force Personnel Center declined to provide the list directly to Air Force Times, and said the numbers change on a daily basis.
But even if the numbers change, the list that was current on Nov. 10 provides a glimpse at where the Air Force sees its undermanning problems.
"We continue to grow the force and are maximizing our accessions," said Brig. Gen. Brian Kelly, director of military force management policy, in a Nov. 2 release announcing the retraining window. "As a result, training seats are at a premium and most AFSCs are at or near max capacity. Correspondingly, our retraining opportunities are limited and focus on balancing the inventory between AFSCs where our inventory is healthier and those where manning is lower in both the first-term airman and NCO retraining areas."
The most retraining opportunities will be for first-term airmen seeking to enter the security forces career field — 145 slots to enter the 3P011A dog handler field and 82 slots to become 3P011B combat arms security forces, for 227 slots total.
And some of the jobs with large numbers of retraining slots could help the Air Force address its maintenance shortfall. For example, the 3S211 education and training AFSC — which has 167 retraining-in slots for first-term airmen and 33 staff sergeant slots, a total of 200 — is responsible for developing maintenance, operations and support training programs.
And airmen in the 1A111 flight engineer AFSC, which has 70 retraining-in slots in all, performs visual inspections and in-flight duties for aircraft, as well as non-scheduled aircraft maintenance.
The NCORP list also has 157 retraining opportunities to become 1B411 cyberspace defense operations airmen, 100 for 1A911 special missions aviation airmen, and 150 for aerospace medical service airmen, which includes 59 for 4N051C independent duty medical technicians and 91 for 4N051F flight and operational medicine technicians.
The list also includes 81 slots for airmen to retrain as 5J011 paralegals.
The bulk of the retraining-in slots, 1,286, are for first-term airmen. The list also includes 510 slots for staff sergeants, 100 for technical sergeants and 21 for master sergeants.
Most of the airmen the Air Force needs to retrain out of overmanned career fields are staff sergeants, with 157 retraining positions identified. Another 115 tech sergeants and 20 master sergeants will have to retrain out of their current jobs.
Vehicle and vehicular equipment maintenance airmen, 2T311, are most overmanned, with 52 billets out of which airmen will need to retrain. The 4N011 aerospace medical service career field which is the most junior skill level in the job — has 44 retrain-out slots. And 3E311 structural airmen and 1N111A geospatial intelligence analysts have 32 and 30 retrain-out slots, respectively.
"Those AFSCs identified as eligible for retraining-out represent areas where the current inventory of airmen, based on skill and grade, is healthy enough to take some risk," AFPC said in the Nov. 2 release. "Those AFSCs identified as eligible for retraining-in currently have lower inventories where current risk can be reduced by adding additional airmen."
AFPC said the Air Force this year launched a program called the Air Force Work Interest Navigator, or AF-WIN, to help NCOs find career fields they might be interested in retraining into. The program has airmen answer questions on their interests, skills and work histories, creates a list of jobs that could suit them, and compares their interests to entry-level AFSCs.
But in the release, Master Sgt. Kristie Reece, the superintendent for AFPC's enlisted skills management branch, said airmen should still talk to their retraining adviser, because the AF-WIN program doesn't recognize if an airman is eligible for a particular career field, or if it has any openings.
Airmen who are interested in applying for retraining must be on at least their second enlistment, be a staff sergeant or staff sergeant-select through master sergeant, and have a skill level of at least five in their control AFSC, or a three-level if a five-level does not exist. Staff sergeants must have less than 12 years of service, and technical and master sergeants must have no more than 16 years of active service by Sept. 30.
The list of retraining opportunities can be found here.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.