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Broad experience is vital to success of reserve force.

Joint credit provides essential strategic-level decision-making opportunities that officers cannot gain at the tactical level, said Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr., Air Force Reserve Command commander.

"To become a senior leader, a Reservist must move beyond unit-level experience in order to develop the critical thinking skills needed to stay relevant in tomorrow's military environment," Stenner said. "I consistently tell our Reservists that senior leader advancement must include key leadership, command and joint positions, as well as experience in the national capitol region and assignments above wing level."

Reserve officers became eligible for joint qualification in 2007. The change in policy was an effort to provide an opportunity for Reservists to more closely match the experience gained by their counterparts in the regular Air Force.

The need for joint qualification is not specific to any group of officers; it applies to all officers and all Air Force specialty codes, according to officials at the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver. Although acquiring joint qualification does not guarantee promotion, it can be a whole person discriminator for personnel decisions.

ARPC officials said there is a difference between "working in a joint environment" and "being involved in joint matters." Simply working with the Air Force's sister services, coalition partners or other federal agencies will not earn an officer joint qualification. Earning joint qualification requires direct strategic-level involvement in the planning or decision-making process that requires knowledge of operations beyond the Air Force.

How do officers know if working in a particular joint assignment will earn them joint qualification? They need ask three key questions:

* What will I be doing that is different from my Air Force job?

* What strategic implications will my position impact?

* Will I be a decision-maker, or will I provide input so someone else can make decisions?

ARPC officials said what it boils down to is this: If an officer's duties apply organizational competencies and critical thinking skills that articulate strategic vision or joint decisionmaking, then joint qualification is earned. An example is an officer who serves as the director of a Joint Operations Center. Since the person in this position has direct involvement in joint matters, then joint qualification is applicable.

On the other hand, if an officer serves as the operations officer within a JOC, doing tactical-level work in a joint environment, then he or she does not meet joint qualification standards, because there was not direct "involvement in joint matters."

ARPC officials said there are two ways an Air Force Reserve officer can become joint qualified. One is by occupying a standard joint duty assignment. This is the most common pathway. The Reserve has 390 joint duty assignments, though most are in the individual mobilization augmentee world, but ARPC is working to add more positions in the future.

Currently, standard joint duty assignments are filled the same as any other assignment -- through vacancy announcements. However, changes are in the works to fill these positions through a nominative process based on ARPC developmental team inputs. Tour length requirements will vary depending on part-or full-time status and the amount of participation.

The other way to become joint qualified is through joint duty experience. This is the more difficult process. It requires officers to nominate their experiences gained in certain deployments and man-day tours for consideration through the Defense Manpower Data Center website. Officers can submit for consideration retroactive credit until Sept. 30, 2013. Experiences gained from Oct. 1, 2013, and beyond must be submitted within one year of the end date.

"Officers who earn joint qualification gain unique experiences and perspectives" said Col. Pat Blassie, ARPC commander. "Joint experiences increase an officer's strategic-level thinking and provide individuals new insights that will ultimately benefit the Air Force"

Brig. Gen. James Muscatell, mobilization assistant to the director of operations at U.S. Transportation Command, said he believes his joint experience has been invaluable to his career.

"Joint credit is not a square filler, it is about the joint experience," Muscatell said. "I have been a wing commander three times, and after my current joint assignment, I see myself as a more effective officer. Joint experience offers us a chance to really learn about the other services and offers a solid foundation so that when we are put into a contingency operation, we understand their culture and how they do business."

(Hoggatt, an IMA, wrote this article while serving a temporary duty assignment at the ARPC public affairs office at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo.)

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Title Annotation:JOINT DUTY
Author:Hoggatt, Christina
Publication:Citizen Airman
Date:Oct 1, 2011
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