Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson laid out a two-year plan Friday for eliminating pointless Air Force instructions.

In remarks to new Air Force fellows at National Defense University Aug. 4, Wilson noted that many of the 1,300 AFIs are outdated and inconsistent. The sheer mind-numbing volume of them breeds cynicism among airmen who can’t possibly keep up with all the rules — or even know what they are.

“There are more AFIs than we need,” Wilson said. “Let’s not tell airmen how to do everything. Let’s tell them what to do and let them surprise us with their ingenuity.”.

The initiative, unveiled in March by Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein, is intended to give squadron commanders’ more authority to make decisions, and is part of part of his overall effort to revitalize squadrons, which he has called “the beating heart of the Air Force.” 

Wilson said approximately 40 percent of Air Force instructions are out of date and may be inconsistent with other AFIs. Officials plan to begin attacking the problem by focusing on those irrelevent AFIs and those identified by airmen as top priorities. Airmen can visit the Airmen Powered by Innovation portal to provide input on which publications should be prioritized for review.

[Goldfein: Cut out pointless AFIs to empower squadron commanders]

“The first step will target immediate rescission,” Wilson said. “We want to significantly reduce the number of publications, and make sure the remaining ones are current and relevant.”

The second phase of the effort will focus on all other directive publications issued by Air Force Headquarters.

Headquarters-issued publications contains more than 130,000 compliance items at the wing level, Wilson noted. Officials want to ensure each publication adds value, sets policy and describes best practices. But just as importantly, they want to ensure that commanders at the lowest practical level have the ability to waive instructions if experience and good judgement suggest that is the best course.

In a few weeks, airmen will have an opportunity to take part in a survey in which they can suggest which instructions the Air Force should rescind or revise.


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