ORLANDO, Florida — The Air Force is now reviewing more than 1,100 Air Force Instructions to cut out pointless rules that limit squadron commanders' authority to make decisions.
In remarks at the Air Force Association's Air Warfare Symposium here March 2, Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein said this is one of the next steps in his effort to overhaul how the service's more than 3,400 squadrons — which range in size from 40 to 1,400 airmen each — operate. He suggested that streamlining AFIs to empower squadron commanders would be a commonsense step to make the Air Force operate more efficiently and effectively, though he did not offer any examples of what kind of rules might be eliminated or changed.
"If we trust that commander with the most destructive weaponry on the planet, by God, we can trust them with decision authority as well," Goldfein said.
The mission of the Air Force rides on getting the squadron structure right, Goldfein said, because that's where new airmen first learn the service's culture and where airmen and their families thrive.
Goldfein last September announced that revitalizing the Air Force's squadron structure would constitute a major focus over his four-year tenure as chief of staff, and he put Brig. Gen. Stephen Davis, director of manpower, organization and resources, in charge of the effort.
In a March 3 roundtable with reporters, Goldfein said the AFI review will determine how many rules are "prescriptive in nature" and unnecessarily burden squadrons or remove decision authority from commanders. The upcoming streamlining of AFIs follows moves last year to cut out or reduce unnecessary duties and ancillary training.
Acting Air Force Secretary Lisa Disbrow also said the service is working on reorganizing its support operations so squadron commanders aren't distracted by support duties that take away from their mission.
Goldfein told reporters he wants wing commanders to take the initiative and act on their own to put in place changes that improve how their squadrons operate.
"Number one, I trust you. I absolutely trust you as wing commanders to go out and take care of your squadrons," Goldfein said he recently told all 273 active, Guard and Reserve wing commanders at a meeting. "And number two, don't wait for me to go get after this. Don't wait around for me to come to you with the big program. Let's all keep swinging at this thing together."
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.