“Faced with these competing demands, our options are to either let our unmatched
capabilities wither or cut our manning to invest in tomorrow's warfighting capabilities.”
I don’t know what planet the Secretary is from, but our manning is an integral part of “our unmatched capabilities.” Without the manpower and technical ability of our airmen we don’t have those unmatched capabilities. F-22’s are a non-issue if you don’t have the highly skilled technicians to keep them in the air. Let’s be honest, the Air Force no longer has the level of competency and skill in it’s technical and craft skills because of all the cuts over the last decade. Back shops are being asked to train their airmen in multiple demanding crafts that took more than a single enlistment term to become highly competent at (let alone master) when all four years could be dedicated to the single craft. Now we’re giving journeyman levels away in two years that would take four to five years, on the outside, for just one of those crafts. Welder, 3-5 year apprenticeship (USAF 3-4). Machinist, 3-5 year apprenticeship (USAF 3-4). Welder/Machinis 6-10 years, 3-5 years for each craft (USAF 3-4 years). Today the Welder/Machinist craft in the USAF will be 1.25 years, since 15 months will be the minimum, and it is likely that the USAF will be pushing for that. So the USAF went from 3 years for a craft to 3 years for two crafts to 1.25 years for two crafts. On a single craft basis we see 3 years to 1.5 years to .75 years.
I don’t know how the Air Force can justify calling someone a journeyman welder in nine months or a welder/machinist in less than twice that. I assume that will also include 96 days of technical school, so we’re really only looking at one year OJT before the Air Force waves its magical wand and pronounces that these recruits are now capable of doing every job necessary with minimum supervision.