The Air Force active-duty historian is a dying breed.

The service decided this year to replace its enlisted historians with civilian ones, said Chief Master Sgt. Walt Grudzinskas, assistant for the Manpower, Readiness and Military Personnel Office of Air Force History in Washington D.C.

The move is aimed at re-allocating resources from support to war fighting, he said.

The Air Force will distribute the positions formerly allocated to historians among stressed, “combat-ready” career fields. “The Air Force has an end strength and they have to remain within that,” Grudzinskas said.

The service has 120 authorizations or billets for historians, six of them officer-level.

The change will begin in fiscal 2005, when a three-year phase-out period begins, with one-third of enlisted historians either converting to another career field or retiring, annually.

Some active-duty historians eligible to retire are expected to compete for a civilian job, Grudzinskas said.

The last group of active-duty apprentice historians, meanwhile, graduated from the Historian Development School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., on Sept. 26.

For now, civilian historians are to be sent for technical training to Maxwell’s history school, Grudzinskas said.

Civilian historians will be full-time civil servants at the GS-11 through GS-13 position levels.

Basic requirements for the job include either a bachelor’s degree in history or a related field that includes 18 semester hours in history; or a combination of education and experience, such as course work equivalent to a major in history and appropriate work experience.

More than 100 civilians now work as historians for the Air Force, Grudzinskas said, but for the new positions, the service will require civilians to deploy.

The civil servant historian will be required to sign an Emergency Essential Agreement, which will make him or her subject to deployment during both practice and real-world contingency operations, according to the Air Force Personnel Center Web site: [BOLDFACE][/BOLDFACE]

Will future civilian historians be given the same access to war documents and commanders during combat operations?

“We want to believe that we will,” Grudzinskas said. “It’s new territory. Our civilian historians have had good access … to the commander. They’ll have the appropriate clearances.”

Civil servant historians must be able to obtain a top-secret clearance, “just as we do for enlisted people right now,” Grudzinskas said.

For 34 years, full-time enlisted historians have recorded the history of Air Force combat wings. They collect, organize and analyze documents, produce periodic histories, answer questions, work on projects requested by their commander and process requests for new or revised emblems and organizational flags, Grudzinskas said.

“Our people seem to have a very good attitude about this,” he said. “Being historians, they recognize that the Air Force changes through time.”

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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