Bored in the Air Force? We want to hear from you

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh testifies Nov. 7 at a hearing on the impacts of sequestration. (Colin Kelly / Staff)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh testifies Nov. 7 at a hearing on the impacts of sequestration. (Colin Kelly / Staff)

When you’re a kid, complaining of boredom usually gets you more chores to do around the house. But when you’re serving in an Air Force that is facing deep budget-driven cuts to its flying hours, boredom complaints may be a sign of serious morale and looming retention problems.

As we reported, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh last week raised the specter of bored pilots and flight crews while testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee:

The flying reductions are starting to affect the Air Force’s morale in worrying ways, Welsh said. He said he recently spoke to a group of young pilots, who were eligible for an aviation career incentive bonus if they agreed to stay with the Air Force, but had not accepted it.

“That doesn’t mean they’re planning to leave the Air Force, but it certainly means they’re keeping their options open, at a minimum,” Welsh said.

The Air Force is offering up to $225,000 bonuses to pilots who commit to 10 more years in the Air Force. Another group of young airmen told Welsh that they were bored because their squadrons weren’t flying.

“They said at the end of their enlistment, they planned to find work that they thought was a little more exciting,” Welsh said. “I haven’t heard anybody in our military say they were bored in quite some time. So that got my attention.”

Are you feeling the same way? Are you bored by the cutbacks in flying, or other mission reductions? Is it causing you to think about leaving the Air Force? Air Force Times would like to hear from you. Write me at to share your thoughts. If you’d like to stay anonymous, that’s fine.

And given that research suggests boredom really can kill you, this may not be just a matter of mission readiness — it could be a matter of life and death.


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  1. C17 FTU Pirate on

    As an FTU IP/EP I don’t know that the problem is boredom. It’s more the threat of not flying jets we were trained to fly, dealing with 6 months to 1 year out of the cockpit on a repeated basis that the bonus comes with, and the endless amounts of queep to get promoted. You can’t be a pilot and get promoted. LTs and Captains coming through the FTUs are more worried about getting their Master’s and PME complete than upgrading to the next crew qual. Can We blame them? Not when they are RIFing guys based on Master’s and PME status regardless of their crew qual. Why stay active duty where the only way to get promoted is to get out of the cockpit. Outside, you can make 2x the 9 year bonus in 5 years just flying commercial, when you’re home you’re with your kids, not working 7-7p on excel files and PowerPoint briefs. With the threat of ending Tricare, changing retirements, I’ll be impressed if they can keep the cockpits filled over the next 10 years, no matter how much money they try to throw at us.

  2. This is not a pilot problem but because of the high bonuses thrown at the CAF guys, it has raised a few eyebrows. If leadership (civilian and military alike) opened their eyes and paid attention to the important things, they would see this is a wave across all AFSC’s in the AF and is only the beginning of a large exodus…they won’t have to worry about reducing the force by 30k over the next five years. As both a pilot and active duty squadron commander in a non-flying unit, I see the concern on my Airman’s face with no training dollars to realistically employ our capabilities, a reduction in mission requirements, reduced PME opportunities, and a newfound focus back to MICT/UCI compliance…where’s the motivation come from these days when there’s little sense of mission accomplishment? And oh by the way, we gave everyone a Post-9/11 GI Bill so why shouldn’t these young Airmen leave and get an education? This is not your father’s AF, nor is it the same I joined either…we have failed to adapt to current constraints and are now looking for menial work to keep our Airman…we are bored…bored by leaderships inability to relate and adapt to ensure we remain appropriately organized, trained and equipped!

  3. We’re not bored. That’s never been the problem. Frustration stems from the abyss of political correctness the Air Force has fallen into as they try to pawn off the perception that all career fields have equal influence on our combat prowess. The Air Force exists to ensure America’s sovereignty and promote national interests, but it has become a jobs program which panders to people who contribute the least to combat air power. There’s more emphasis now on doing work outside of the Air Force in order to get promoted within the Air Force. Are you kidding me! We have new pilots across all airframes that now worry more about getting masters degrees and non-sense OPR bullets than being proficient at their job. Why would I expect LTs to be better pilots when they’re assessed on how many career squares they checked vs. how proficient they are at putting bombs on target. We’ve lost sight of what’s important and why we are a military force. The extra education degrees and “career broadening” are really making our resumes shine; however, they are doing nothing to enhance our combat capability. The best part: The Air Force offers this 10 year incentive under the guise that pilots will get to stay in the cockpit. Show me a 20 year pilot who has never been pulled from their flying billet to work a staff job or do another PME course. Airmen are running from the Active Duty as fast as possible because we’ve become a career development program. The guard and reserves seem to be the only ones left who get it. It’s sad when the guard is the first to get called to go to war.

  4. It’s true Airman are bored on the flightline because we were not flying, but I can’t speak about the backshop and the ‘Nonners”. I believe a lot has to do with all the briefings, death by powerpoint, and other commander calls about the same things over and over. Today’s Airman somehow have feelings now, but 10 years ago, you shut up and color, if you didn’t like it, you exited the service. The Air Force seems a bit more corporate, and I feel senior leaders have lost sight of what’s important and the Airman are fed up with being mistreated. Some deployers don’t have a mission while deployed, and it seems like a waste of time with no mission, no direction, just collecting a paycheck while being needlessly away from family.

  5. Comments #1 and 3 suggest the Air a force could save significant dollars and get better qualified leaders if they brought back warrant officers to fill most pilot billets. Too many of them seem to have forgotten that their primary job is to be officers and leaders of the total force, not simply pilots solely focused on putting bombs on target. If they want to just fly, redesign the career field for hose who want to just fly so they can focus on that, leave the officership to people who actually want the job.

  6. i totally agree with Michael’s comment. I’ll believe them about wanting to fly more when officers start pushing for warrant officers.

  7. Concerned Pilot on

    -Dear Gen Welsh,

    There was so much hope when you became the Chief of Staff. Many flyers thought that we would finally see some change or catch a breath of fresh air. We thought that aviators would finally be recognized as different and a core part of the force. Unfortunately, on the rated side of the house we are somewhat disappointed and confused on where you think the focus should be and where you stand on issues.

    First, I’d like to thank all above for the detailed thought and comments that are in response to the pilot retention issue. Second, I would like to point out what I believe to be the most valid points of the discussion and issues on retention. Lastly, is the grass greener on the other side?
    Valid Points: Boredom, Qweep, We are all the same, 70K-100K pay cut

    Pilots are leaving the Air Force due to an overwhelming amount of additional duties. The failure of senior leadership to recognize core elements of the force and false senses of leadership combined with false promises.

    Response to boredom:

    We are not bored. If there are pilots who are bored, they must not have the giant list of additional duties that everyone else has. If so, I salute them. If they do not have the additional duties, then maybe they already received their Master’s Degree (took me 5 years of nights and weekends and cost the Air Force tens of thousands of dollars), did their PME and all their CBTs so they could be CMR. If they managed all that then I am sure they were in the books for the next upgrade. Lastly, if they got all that buttoned up in a 40 hour work week, then I bet you they spent a decent amount of time with their family. This is all of course if you are not deployed or getting deployed.

    A task or duty that is completely useless to your primary job. It is always assigned to you by your superiors to completely waste your time and take you away from your primary duties. Often times it is assigned by superiors that are not in your career field and assume you have time to constantly accomplish these tasks. (Masters, Endless Additional Duties, CBTs, PME)

    Why folks want to leave: Qweep

    Being pilot in the Air Force is a great job. The problem is all the endless qweep that goes along with it is what makes the airlines look like a desirable option. The thought of just showing up and getting a packet to go fly is very desirable compared with how many elements our brains are focused on today. For example, in my squadron, we have 70 additional duties. There are only about 15 folks around (not deployed, in training, at a course or TDY) that make them happen. Many of these additional duties appear they came from a corporation (like Initech) and not a well-disciplined military machine.

    -Thought in pilot’s brain: I can just fly and get paid for it and it’s my primary job?

    -Thought in leadership’s brain: Well he/she just doesn’t want to lead and balance duties.

    No. That is not the issue. The issue is that you don’t even have time for leadership. You would like to, the Air Force preaches it…but unfortunately you are probably worried about some sort of qweep you need to get done, rather than inspiring the younger folks in the squadron or studying tactics or our enemies. The main problem in the USAF today:

    The USAF preaches leadership and innovation and rewards compliance and ‘yes’ people.

    Why folks want to leave: Promoting the ‘Self-Promoting’

    Over the past 7 years, I have watched the top pilots from various weapons systems leave. As a fellow brother said above, no one ever gets promoted for being a good pilot or for having a certain qualification (EP/IP/FL etc). You get promoted by being a ‘self-promoting’ hero of yourself. You must love and care about yourself and your record to receive promotion. I would not leave it up to your supervisor because often times you will get left behind and write your own OPR anyway. You get promoted by spending more time at your desk job (Chair Force). You get promoted by volunteering more of your time for the squadron Christmas party or helping with the church. The last few years I have watched multiple weapons school graduates not receive a school slot and the thus, be eliminated from the path of senior leadership. Thus, they leave active duty and go to the guard. Had they dedicated more of their time to the chair force or CGOC, they may have been recognized for promotion; emphasis on the word time. We don’t have time, contrary to whatever group of anomalies told you we can be bored. Since being a professional aviator at the level the Air Force wants you to be takes such a significant amount of time, we don’t have time for CGOC, planning pizza parties etc.

    Further, the self-promoting robots that manage to get to the top have trouble inspiring the people around them. But, they are power point ninjas, outlook warriors and have the paper trail and strats to show it. The right people are not getting promoted at the squadron level. The commander gets up on stage and uses every kind of buzz word he can, and then repeats, louder for emphasis. Gone are the days of Braveheart speeches or any sort of inspiration. We have lost our way. We are worried about being politically correct at all times, yet our primary mission is to drop bombs, kill people and break things.

    Why folks want to leave: We are all the same

    Let’s re-define our Air Force:

    Core elements: Pilots to include anyone with wings or who controls aircraft (JTAC, ABM, ALO, ATC) Maintenance, and Medical

    That is the core of the Air Force. Everything else is support. You need those three things to get jets off the ground and fight a war. Promotion rates for these career fields should be higher! These are the core elements. Aviators want out because it is beginning to mean less to have wings on your chest. Especially when senior leadership attempts to be so politically correct and say, ‘we are all the same.’

    We are not: we worked harder in our commissioning source. That’s how we got selected. Higher PT scores, better GPA, higher AFOQT score, better demonstrated leadership etc. Then there is survival training, water and land, followed by IFF or FTU, followed by upgrade to CMR, followed by special training (depending on what you fly) followed AC/FLUG followed by IP. This is all WHILE HAVING A FULL TIME (exec, scheduler, training, flight commander) DESK JOB! Why do aviators leave?

    I can’t focus enough on the flying (the thing I signed up to do)! It becomes secondary.

    Senior leadership thinks we are all the same and our promotion rates should be the exact same of a non-core element member. Really? Air Force or Chair Force? Is flying a jet around the sky from gear up to gear down the same as sitting at a finance desk? But finance officers can receive the bronze star. Now I’m confused. Chances are I could sit at the finance desk and figure out how to move money, be closed for training and work 830 – 1630.

    Take any non-flyer out of their job and almost any aviator could learn and do their job.

    Take any flyer out of their cockpit and most non flyers could not be a flyer. This is for various reasons: Medical qualification, ability to make decisions under stress, hand-eye coordination, and general intelligence level. Truth hurts, but not everyone gets a trophy.

    We are not the same! The young airmen who works on our jets is not the same. The Doctor who checks us out and tells us we are good to fly is not the same. The aviator who understands how to takeoff, drop weapons, air-refuel, cross the ocean and come home is not the same.

    Quit treating your core elements as if they are no more important than desk jockey

    Why folks want to leave: 70K-100K pay cut

    While we have been at war for over 10 years we all have just been hit with a 70K to 100K pay cut due to the recent budget that was passed that modified adjustments for pensions of people under 62 to equal inflation minus 1 %. This depends on your rank and assumes you stay until 20 years which only 17% do. Does this affect retention?

    Small example:

    Approximately 4.0% (12.8 million) of the US population is on Welfare.
    US spends $131 Billion on welfare annually minus food stamps.

    (Source: US Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Commerce, CATO Institute)

    Total military population .5% (1.4 million)

    Simple Math: If only 17% of US active duty military stay until 20 years
    (17% of 1.4 Million (assuming total number of active duty stays the same) = 238,000 people)

    238,000 people out of 300 Million who most likely fought for their country for the last 12 years at war. That’s where the cuts come from. Hmmm, off the backs of active service members. Seems like cost savings could have come from somewhere else, perhaps from people who don’t work at all let alone served their country during a time of war.

    The president to include senior DoD and military leadership said that cuts would not come off of the backs of military families. We were lied to. We signed a contract on the dotted line (most of us a 10 year commitment) for the benefits that we were told we could count on. We enlisted in a time of war and have remained at war the whole time we have served. What would happen if I decided to change my commitment to 9 years because I just took a 100K pay cut, just because it was easier for me? Jail would happen.

    Why folks want to leave: Conclusion

    It’s ok to be different. There are core elements (wings on chest, maintenance, medical) and support (everyone else). The message of being support is ok needs to be conveyed. If you want people to be the same, then we should join the Army and become a part of the Air Corps then we can all be a soldier first.

    Pilots are leaving the Air Force due to an overwhelming amount of additional duties. The failure of senior leadership to recognize core elements of the force and false senses of leadership combined with false promises.

    Just a few budget ideas to modernize our force:
    -Eliminate the F-35 program completely…scary math. Build more F-22s (in a whisper: because it’s better).
    -Close the Air Force Academy – don’t have time for the math on this one…price per cadet…scary math.
    -Close Maxwell AFB – Relocate to somewhere where people want to live. You might see a better instructor cadre due to an increase in quality of life. Relocate to Patrick AFB and combine with Air Force Manpower training facility.
    -Close almost all bases in Europe.

  8. Going To The Guard on

    I believe that “Concerned Pilot” hit the nail on the head with his dialogue. I will add a few tidbits that I think are important as well.
    – Senior Leadership is out of touch. While most individuals in the Air Force between the ranks of SrA to MSgt and Capt to Lt. Col, who are still in AD, have deployed countless times to warzones, senior leaders have not. I recently had to listen to a “I am so cool” story from a female Col. Select who spent the better part of her entire career as an exec. When questioned if she had ever deployed she responded with “I deployed once to NATO HQ”. I believe that is in Brussels, must have been terrible. I also heard a General brief jokingly about his terrible one year remote tour that he had to do in Europe when he was a Lt. Again… terrible.

    -I think in addition to the comments by “Concerned Pilot”, pilots specifically are getting tired. As a fighter pilot I cannot say I am bored but I am tired of the constant deployments, remotes, 12hr+ duty days while stateside, and all the TDY’s in between that when compiled together actually make your average aviator be away from his or her family longer than your average Army troop who deploys once per assignment.

    Just a thought.

  9. Is concerned pilot being serious or was that one of the best pieces of snark ever written on these responses? Didn’t you already get reprimanded by your Wing CC at Cannon? Seriously, you think the problem is that we are not pilot-centric enough? Your primary job is to be an officer and leader of the force, your secondary job is to be a pilot. In many missions in the AF today, the pilot is the support element of the real mission.

  10. Another Concerned Pilot on

    Michael, a Concerned Pilot is just that…a pilot. This is his outlook on the problem from a standpoint of a pilot. You clearly have a different viewpoint; which is exactly what he is talking to. All of his concerns were addressed in a manner that relates to him. Relax. His long response could only focus on what pertains to him not because he’s pilot centric but simply because the nature of the article is ABOUT pilots. You make it sound like pilots are attempting to stiff arm their leadership roles completely. Instead, pilots are consumed by additional duties and piles of nonsense requirements that not only pull them away from studying the tactical and operational knowledge which is required to survive and achieve mission success, but also diminishes their effectiveness to lead airmen. Now then, this couldn’t possibly only happen to pilots. Everyone has to have this excess “queep” which only creates busy work. It most likely stems from the guy who’s OPR reads, “Ingeniously recreated Information Assurance CBT! Hours of productivity wasted across the force annually!” The problem is, pilots do not need more busy work. They have enough work to learn something new everyday and get better at doing the main job of the Air Force in an operational sense. When someone is over tasked, stretched thin, constantly away from family, and not attaining job satisfaction I’d say the grass is looking greener…well anywhere else. I’d also say the over tasked problem is the easiest to solve. I can’t remember a time at work I ever thought, “I’m bored, I wish I had more to do.” I have always had too much to do, and never enough time to accomplish the things that make me better at my own job or leading airmen.

    This viewpoint of officer is your primary job and pilot secondary is hilarious. I’ve heard it preached before many times, not by pilots. Why? Not because being a pilot is more important than being an officer, but because when a pilot is flying a mission or even preparing for one, they aren’t thinking about how to end the atrocity of rape in the service or how to solve the Wing’s maintenance issues. They are doing that after they land and after a five hour debrief on how to get better at their primary job. Then they continue their secondary job that isn’t going to get them killed that day.

  11. 1. Everyone is consumed with additional duties, not just pilots.

    2. Everyone (well, most everyone, we all know a few exceptions) has a lot of work in their primary AFSC.

    3. “the main job of the Air Force in an operational sense.” This is the problem with Concerned Pilot’s post. The “main job” of the Air Force is control and exploitation of air, space, and cyberspace; of which pilots are at best operationally in control of 1/3 and even in that 1/3 actual flight is only one portion of it, with nonsense statements like “There are core elements (wings on chest, maintenance, medical) and support (everyone else)” showing you put yourselves at the center of the AF with no clue of what the AF actually does and how it accomplishes its mission, to the detriment of the service. You ignore the nuclear force, you ignore the numerous other operations fields that don’t wear wings but are in the field, often in forward operating locations and not at cushy places like Bagram or Balad back in the day, who are executing the primary mission by bringing strategic airpower to troops in the field through comm, ISR, targeting support, and a number of other operations.

    It is pilots who have re-written our mission as ‘fly, fight, win’ to the exclusion of the large number of operators in the AF which in turn leads other pilots to parrot this ‘primary operation’ stuff with a very narrow and self-limiting view of what the AF actually does. If that is in fact what the AF does, we have no argument left for being an independent service and might as well be rolled back into the Army as some of our critics say.

    If the rest of what you say is true, all the more arguments for bringing back warrant officers and letting you guys fly as a warrant. You can then have flying as your primary job and not have to worry about pesky leadership issues. No more need to laugh about being an officer first and a pilot second.

  12. Concerned Pilot – that’s the best, most complete, and concise description of our situation that I’ve seen. It should be an article in itself.

    Michael – At the risk of arguing with a fool, I’ll bite. There’s a lot that goes on in the AF besides flying. Some of it is vitally important, but it is still IN SUPPORT of flying operations. If it’s not, it’s mission-creep. To your credit, there’s a valid argument to bringing back warrant officers. There are a lot of us pilots who feel like we were victims of a bait-and-switch that would seriously consider flying as a CWO to be able to do what we signed up for without the focus on PME and box-checking.

  13. I have to say that concerned pilot hit the problem of corporate lobbyist induced mission creep right on the head. It is why the vast majority of us with talent leave the Air Force ASAP. The problem isn’t the motivated zoomies; the problem is a system that caters to political correctness and mediocre standards (not much different than the staff officers in War and Peace – I know too difficult a book for today’s online scholars).

    I was an AF Finance Officer and I can affirm that the two career fields are nothing alike. AF Finance is essentially a welfare agency that employs private-sector unemployable civilians and polically correct loafers in the name of “guv-ment” jobs. The vast majority of people I worked with in that career field were vastly under-qualified to work in their daily capacities (advertisement for GS-11/12 claims Master’s and most had an Associate’s degree in stuff not even remotely related to the field). I will never forget the PC-type that repeatedly slept at his desk with his phone in his hand pretending to be listening to it. I tried to reprimand him but instead I was myself reprimanded because it might invoke union wrath to fix the situation.

    But hey, who cares right? It’s 2014 already, up is down and right is left. An active duty force full of worthless online University of Phoenix degrees and no time to train for their real jobs is the best way to maintain air superiority. Maybe while we’re at it we can do away with fitness testing altogether and officially label it “Chairforce” since the marines just discovered that physical fitness is a patriarchal conspiracy against weak people…

    Finance Guy no longer (Thank God).

  14. Retired Non-Pilot on

    Wow… and I thought pilots were narcassists back in the ’80s. Seems it has only gotten worse. I hope all these comments are from Lieutenants; I’d hate to think field graders with 15+ years of service actually have such a distorted view of reality. Everytime one of you mentions ‘core elements’ you dishonor the tens of thousands of hard working Airmen who make your jobs possible – most of whom have never even been on a flightline.

    The Concerned Pilot’s flippant mockery of the Finance career field demonstrates his immaturity and his failure to grasp basic concepts of officership. His and others complaints about additional duties – using the offensively suggestive word ‘queep’ – exposes their naive comprehension of how large organizations work. If you think taking a job at United or Southwest will save you from sexual harrassment briefings or compliance inspections, you’re sorely mistaken.

    Perhaps the most offensive comment in this entire list is the comment “Take any non-flyer out of their job and almost any aviator could learn and do their job.” This is the most egotistical thing I have heard come out of a pilot’s mouth – and I have heard a lot. Shame on every commenter here for not thoroghly condemning that statement.

    But by all means, if you think the Air Force is so bad, leave and take that civilian pilot job… we’re better off without you.

  15. Not a Retired Non-Pilot on

    Retired Non-Pilot, I would expect and hope that Concerned Pilot’s comments, and those who followed him, are from senior Captain or Major, as those are the guys who have been around long enough to see our Air Force move faster on this downward slide. Those comments don’t dishonor or demean the tens of thousands of hard working Airmen who make our jobs possible. We are intimately aware of what they do (and don’t do) in order to allow us to accomplish the mission.

    However, the fact is that most of those jobs are support to the overall mission, which many seem to fail to recognize. When I was flying in OND, there were people on our American compound who had no idea what aircraft we actually flew into combat (the only reason that the base was open) and then had the audacity to suggest that we shouldn’t be taking off at 2 or 3 a.m. because the sound of our afterburners was waking them up (these were combat missions into Iraq mind you). Again, this doesn’t downplay the importance of these folks to the mission, but does suggest that their ignorance of the actual mission and may have led to a decreased performance of their primary duties (and even more so in a non-deployed environment when a shop is only open 6 hours a day due to training and PT time, and then usually only during the flying window when very few flyers can actually get over there without having to pull themselves off of the flying schedule). That is one of the main reasons why many of us get frustrated with our support brethren.

    Regarding your comments about Concerned Pilot’s flippant mockery of the Finance career field, I believe part of it goes back to what I just mentioned. The other even more frustrating part, as he mentions, is that someone who sits at a desk and is not out in the field or the air can actually earn a Bronze Star (and yes, I know what the Bronze Star is for). It demeans the award and those who earned it in blood. Again, not necessarily a jab at the finance career field or anyone else whose primary job has them behind a desk, but more to point out where our leadership has completely lost focus on what is actually important about what we do as an Air Force.

    Finally, regarding your thoughts of the “most offensive comment,” you have essentially stepped into a Neil trap. By that I mean your comment was already defeated by nature of what pilots have done and continue to do that is outside of their job. For instance, back in the 90’s drawdown, when there weren’t enough cockpits for pilots to fill after they finished 12 months of pilot training, they received a “banked” aircraft assignment, meaning they had to wait awhile (usually about 2 years) before they would even go start training on their primary weapons system. During that “banked” time, what did these pilots do? Sit around and go to the gym? Nope, they became finance officers, logisitics officers, execs, and maintenance officers (which our Navy bros still do and we would still be doing if the Air Force screwed that one up a few years ago). They often did that with minimal to no formal training in those career fields and there was little to no degradation noted in those areas. To this day this continues, although not to the same extent. I know multiple pilots have served or are serving as a WG or OG exec (with none of the exec training that many non-rated officers get) and still manage to fly, albeit usually at a reduced rate and proficiency level. Additionally, in all of the CAF squadrons, the schedulers are now pilots, and usually some of our youngest pilots who often spend days not flying trying to ensure next week’s schedule is executable. This job used to be done by our enlisted 1COs or civilians, allowing our young aviators the time to study and learn the tactics they would need to survive in aerial combat. So I say again, the fact is that flyers have done and continue to do the jobs of non-flyers (with little to no formal training in those areas) and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. This shouldn’t be offensive as it is a fact of life.

    To further extrapolate on the reverse concept of what Concerned Pilot was talking about, taking non-flyers and putting them in the jobs of flyers, the main reason it doesn’t work is the training required. What I believe CP meant in regards to this is that it takes 2 years of training to turn out a combat-ready aviator, which by its nature is not something that can be learned quickly, while the reverse is not usually true (note previous comment). By the time a flyer gets to about 8 years into his career as an officer (and I can only speak for fighters here as I don’t know the stats for our heavy bros), after a few Red &/or Green Flags and multiple other TDYs, with 1000-2000 hours of flight time, he has anywhere between 6 and 10 million dollars worth of training put into him. Again, that is not an asset that the Air Force can generate easily or quickly and is only paralleled by our Spec Ops brethren in terms of training time and money. On the flip side, a “Finance” officer (or any other non-flyer) at the same point in their career will likely have had about 2-6 months of formal training in their career field at a cost of less than a half million dollars. While that career or cost is nothing to snuff at, it doesn’t come anywhere close to a flyer or Spec Operator, and that “Finance” officer can often be replaced by a new Lt who has also received a few months of training. While that is probably over-simplified in some respects, this is a large source of frustration for flyers, when they, as assets, are equated to someone, in terms of promotion rates, who didn’t cost even a tenth of their training value to create. This is the major dilemma the Air Force and the flyers find themselves in and if it doesn’t change (and it doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon), the Air Force will end up being the big losers.

  16. Not a Retired Non-Pilot on

    Finance guy, thanks for providing a non-rated perspective on things that actually calls a spade a spade. You and your bros outside the flying world have to deal with a lot of nonsense as well and it’s refreshing to see that you recognize the stupidity of the way Big Blue does business (especially when it comes to many of the GSs). It’s unfortunate that the AF seems to drive all of the good people away. One thing I always tell my friends who plan on putting in 20 is that the first thing the AF wants you to do on day 20+1 is die so they don’t they don’t have to keep paying you for the rest of your life. If you keep that perspective on how much the AF actually cares about you and your desires you’ll not be too disappointed when they inevitably screw you or your bros over.

  17. AverageJoe, in many operations today, the pilot flies in support of the actual mission, be it Command and Control, ISR, or CSAR, and in none of those cases is it mission creep (for the first three missions the pilot is a glorified his driver in many cases). In those cases, the pilots allow US to do the mission. Maybe you should g back and review the Air Force core functions or spend some time embedded with the Army or Navy outside the flying community for a few minutes to better appreciate how air power is truly leveraged.

    Despite this, those folks who have been serving 1:1 deployments for nearly a decade in those key career fields are facing the firing line while pilots are being offered bonuses to stay in.

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