United States Air Force International Affairs Career Field

Article excerpt

International relationships are critical enablers for United States Air Force (USAF) expeditionary air and space forces conducting global operations and fighting the war on terrorism. Building these critical relationships requires skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced international affairs (IA) professionals. Our Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs (SAF/IA) team recognized this need, and developed and implemented an International Affairs Career Field (IACF), which provides Air Force civilian personnel opportunities for career development and advancement. These new opportunities not only provide benefits for individual team members. They work to systematically attract, develop, and retain a workforce that meets the needs of the entire security cooperation community. This article provides an overview of USAF efforts to shape the total force, explains how IA leadership responded to the strategic direction of the Air Force by creating the IACF, and shares the benefits of the new Career Field to Air Force civilians and the broader security cooperation community.

Air Force Efforts to Shape the Force

IACF implementation comes at a time of great importance as the Air Force transforms and reshapes itself to meet the challenges presented by the Global War on Terror. (GWOT). Air Force Doctrine Document 1-1, Leadership and Force Development, provides the principles behind total force development and current transformation efforts pertaining to civilian development. The force development concept outlines a framework to maximize individual capabilities by clearly defining three levels of development:

* Tactical

* Operational

* Strategic

Each level builds on the other ensuring Air Force team members possess the necessary skills and enduring competencies needed to meet current and future mission requirements.

The force development concept of operations for civilians takes the principles in Air Force Doctrine Document 1-1 and outlines a cohesive plan for developing civilians as an integral part of the total force. Every civilian position in the Air Force now belongs to a Career Field that provides a structured framework for civilian development. This will ensure that all civilian team members receive the appropriate education, functional training, and assignment experiences to prepare them to meet present and future challenges.

International Affairs Community Response

The Air Force and U.S. government depend on the political-military expertise of both military and civilian IA personnel to build relationships with U.S. partners and allies that facilitate access and overflight, partner nation capability and capacity, and coalition interoperability. Executing security cooperation programs in support of Air Force and U.S. national security objectives requires strong, competent, and effective IA professionals.

SAF/IA responded to Air Force direction by implementing a career field for IA civilian professionals in alignment with the total force effort. IACF provides a framework to increase the effectiveness and perpetuate the excellent performance of our IA civilians.

International Affairs Career Field History and Concept

The IACF Development Team recognized the IA civilian workforce as all Air Force civilian personnel who are employed in IA functional areas. These areas include:

* International Security Assistance

* Cooperative Research

* Development or Acquisition

* Foreign Disclosure and Technology Transfer

* International Education and Training

* Financial Management, and Logistics

* Information and Personnel Exchanges

An in-depth analysis of Air Force IA positions identified 319 civil service positions as part of the IACE The majority of IACF positions are located at SAF/IA, the Air Force Security Assistance Center (AFSAC), and the Air Force Security Assistance Training (AFAST) Squadron. …