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The Air Force is aiming to cut “ancillary” training requirements by up to 50 percent so airmen can devote more time to their actual jobs, the service announced recently.

Anti-terrorism awareness, records management, information assurance awareness, sexual-assault prevention, suicide awareness and Department of Defense homosexuality policy training are among the tasks considered outside an airman’s specialty or primary duties, but necessary to meet certain legal standards.

The Air Force acknowledged ancillary training’s importance but expressed concern about the amount of time airmen and reservists spend completing such assignments, according to a recent “Roll Call” Air Force newsletter posted at http://www.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-070209-083.pdf.

So officials are re-evaluating frequency, duration and training delivery methods.

“With Air Staff legal assistance, we are identifying those courses required by law and the legal minimum frequency,” Capt. Thomas Wenz, an Air Force spokesman at the Pentagon, said in an e-mail response to Stars and Stripes.

Officials plan to issue a new policy guidance immediately after it is approved. The Air Force Instruction would then be revised within six months and passed down to major commands and wings.

The Air Force estimates a savings of about 4.2 million work hours if recommended cuts and reductions are adopted, Wenz said.

“We have a smaller force and our … airmen are being asked to accomplish more ancillary training than necessary and that takes them away from their primary job,” Wenz wrote. “The important benefit is that our airmen will have more time for their primary mission and this will lessen the stress from our high (ops tempo).”

Airmen stationed in the Pacific appeared to welcome the proposal.

Senior Airman Nathan Layel of Yokota Air Base’s 374th Maintenance Squadron said he’d prefer to see the training condensed into one package, since much of it is informal.

“I get e-mails saying, ‘You’re past due’ or ‘You’re behind on this,’” he said. “It’s hard to keep up with all of them. There are certain cycles. Some are 15 months, some are 12 months. They should do a block class, compress it down to one briefing maybe once a year … Knock it out all at one time, instead of having those things pop up throughout the year.”

Tech. Sgt. Lamon Mabron, a material acquisitions specialist with the 35th Communications Squadron at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan, said ancillary training reduction is a good idea in light of the ongoing Air Force personnel cuts.

“It’s too much,” he said of current requirements. “People are working longer hours. The computer-based training is getting more and more intense. Something’s got to give.”

Staff Sgt. Nikki Little, a non-destructive-inspection journeyman with the 35th Maintenance Squadron, echoed that.

“You have people in your shop clicking through all the slides and taking four hours just to finish self-aid buddy care,” she said. “It hurts other people in the shop if a job comes up that requires more than one person.”

Sometimes, ancillary training is redundant as airmen train online and attend a briefing on the same topic, she said. It should be one or the other, she added, and “just a one-time thing.”

Stars and Stripes reporter Jennifer H. Svan contributed to this report.

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