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 ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Merrill A. McPeak announced plans to overhaul the training system for enlisted members of the Air Force during an address at the Air Force Association's 1992 Annual Convention.
 "Our enlisted occupational training system is not systematic enough," McPeak said. "It is also not tough enough." On average, an Air Force enlisted member can move from the apprentice level to that of a fully qualified journeyman, who is expected to be able to work without close supervision, in a matter of 13 months.
 "When you think about it, 13 months is not a very long apprenticeship to qualify someone to troubleshoot the F-15 flight control system, or handle air traffic at a large aerodome, or repair hospital x-ray equipment without assistance," McPeak added.
 Focusing on the "Year of Training," McPeak stated that it is important to remember that the Air Force is not reorganizing because of poor results. In fact, the Air Force has produced "excellent results" over the years, he said.
 McPeak stated that training was "vitally" important. "You want to know how good a military outfit is, check its vital signs -- its training." That is exactly what he went about doing.
 During the Year of Training, Secretary of the Air Force Donald B. Rice and McPeak set two main objectives: to build a coherent education and training architecture; and to improve the quality of education and training programs.
 The enlisted force makes up 80 percent of the Air Force. "Enlisted people are the bone and muscle of our service," McPeak said. And, unlike the fairly well-defined career path for an officer, there is no common path for the enlisted ranks.
 There are, however, a series of levels and classifications airmen and noncommissioned officers must pass through, starting as trainees (1-level), moving to apprentices (3-level) and journeymen (5-level), and finally on to craftsmen (7-level). But many airmen and NCOs have had to rely on on-the-job training to move up -- not formal training.
 McPeak announced a number of changes to the current approach that will affect both enlisted technical and non-technical specialties:
 -- Everyone will go to technical school after completing basic military training.
 -- Everyone will return to the Air Training Command for advanced formal training before becoming a craftsman. This will have the effect of reducing Air Force dependence on correspondence courses and on-the-job training.
 -- Rank requirements will be established for attendance at the NCO Academy and the Senior NCO Academy. Only technical sergeants and tech sergeant selectees will attend the NCO Academy, and only senior master sergeants and selectees will attend the Senior NCO Academy.
 -- Greater emphasis will be placed on attending these academies "in residence" to qualify for promotion to senior ranks, with less emphasis being placed on correspondence courses.
 McPeak said that "these changes mean that we will need to dedicate more resources to our technical training schools. The secretary and I will stand up to these costs, because we feel so strongly about the importance of education and training."
 One way of holding down expenses is by reducing the number of technical training centers from six to four with the planned closure of Chanute Air Force Base, Ill., in 1993 and Lowry Air Force Base, Colo., in 1994, McPeak said. The four remaining training centers will be expanded, and the number of enlisted specialties will be reduced, mainly by merging similar career fields, by as much as 20 percent.
 "These actions," McPeak said, "can be linked together to form a well-defined career path for our enlisted members. ... Tougher, more rigorous training and education is good for us as an institution, it's good for our prospects of victory in any contest of arms, it's good for the nation."
 The bottom line, according to McPeak: "I particularly like the post-game remark attributed to a Desert Storm aircrew: 'Red Flag (training) was harder.'"
 -0- 9/17/92
 /CONTACT: Stephen P. Aubin, director of communications, Air Force Association, 703-247-5850/ CO: Air Force Association ST: Virginia IN: ARO SU:

TW -- DC009 -- 0548 09/17/92 10:31 EDT
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Date:Sep 17, 1992

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