Air Force shortens special duty tours
By CHRISTOPHER DENNIS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 5, 2019
Tours for Air Force military training instructors have been cut from four years to three after a survey found a sharp increase in assignment fatigue after three years in the roles, officials said.
“The Air Force is committed to returning our experienced and professional workforce to their operational career fields and reducing the unique stressors associated with these special duty tours,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy Leahy, Second Air Force commander.
The decision to shorten the tours came after a 2019 survey found that the number of military training leaders and instructors who lose motivation increases sharply after three years. Survey respondents said some of the main stressors that contribute to this assignment fatigue were difficulties finding a work-life balance, having to take on professional responsibilities outside typical duty hours, and time away from their operational career fields.
Shorter tour lengths are expected to increase retention and readiness, and reduce assignment-related burnout, officials said.
The change affects military training instructors, military training leaders, certain Air Education and Training Command technical instructors, and stateside professional military education instructors, the Air Force said in a statement.
Airmen who are newly assigned to any of these training roles will remain in them for three years, while trainers who were already serving in one of these positions between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019, will have 30 days to choose to complete their original four-year tour or change down to three years.
The change in tour length does not apply to recruiters, Air Force officials said, citing the seven weeks required to get them trained and certified.
Also exempted from the changes are those on overseas tours or assigned to special duty assignments that are outside their military specialty, if they started before July 1, 2018. They will finish their tours as scheduled, the statement said.
Tech. Sgt. Dylan Drake, left, a crew chief instructor with the 372nd Training Squadron Field Training Detachment 5, speaks to his students during a course at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., June 4, 2019. The Air Force has shortened the length of tours for military training instructors.
TESSA CORRICK / U.S. AIR FORCE