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Chief Roy shares what's in store for enlisted force

WASHINGTON -- The chief master sergeant of the Air Force shared his perspective of where the enlisted force is heading during a presentation at the Air Force Association Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 15 here.

Some of the key points Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy emphasized were Airmen's participation in the joint and coalition fight, deliberately developing Airmen and building resiliency among Airmen and their families.

"We're in this joint and coalition fight in a very serious way," Chief Roy said. "I think we're doing a good job in the joint mission, and we make excellent coalition partners."

With more than 220,000 total force Airmen deployed, forward stationed or employed by a combatant command, maintaining and acquiring their skills has become of one the senior enlisted leader's primary focuses.

Chief Roy said Air Force officials have been looking at ways to make combat skills training more efficient and effective for Airmen who deploy frequently and to the same locations.

Many Airmen are at a one-to-one dwell rate, meaning they're deployed for six months and home for six months, but with up to two months of training before deploying, they're actually having about four months at home at a time, Chief Roy said.

"One of the areas we're looking at is credentialing the training," he said. "That's something that we're going to have to really review, really study to get it right, because the last thing we want to do is send people into combat who don't have the right training. We've got to step into this with caution, but it's something we've got to look at because our Airmen are deploying at such a rapid rate."

Credentialing could allow Airmen to skip certain portions of frequently repeated training, letting them spend more time at home with their families during the reconstitution portion of the deployment cycle.

Equipment issues also are being re-evaluated to make sure Airmen have the proper gear to complete the mission including the Airman Battle System-Ground.

"The ABS-G is a set of flame-retardant gear that our Airmen are receiving, in the pattern in our ABUs ... for Airmen who operate 'outside the wire'," Chief Roy said. "Right now, today, we've got it about 90 percent fielded in Iraq. It looks like we'll have it 100 percent fielded in the next 60 days."

Another joint set of gear, with the Operation Enduring Freedom camouflage pattern, referred to as OCP, is ready to be fielded to Airmen in Afghanistan beginning this fall, Chief Roy said.

A new development in enlisted training is that Airmen who attend some joint professional military education schools will be able to apply those credits toward their Air Force PME requirements.

"We have two Airmen, for the first time in about four years, that are going through the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy," the chief said.

He said they are looking at partner nation schools to see if Airmen who attend can get credit for the like-Air Force course "just like we've done in Canada and Singapore."

"We're going to give them full credit for the United States Air Force Senior NCO Academy," he said. "We've been doing that for many, many years in our officer corps, and it has worked perfectly."

Other advancements in training Chief Roy highlighted are introducing combatives during basic military training and developing a single tracking system for on-the-job training documentation.

Lastly, the chief discussed building resiliency in Airmen and families, including programs to help prevent suicides.

"It cannot be just another program," Chief Roy said. "It's got to be heartfelt, and we've got to make sure our Airmen are given those tools before they need them. It's not before they deploy; it's right out of the shoot, when they're in basic (military training) when they're in (technical) school. It's all the way through a person's career. We've got to continue to instill resiliency in our Airmen and our families."