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Air Force slashes computer-based training requirements

A screen grab of the U.S. Department of Defense Cyber Awareness Challenge computer-based training module. It is one of three couses airmen will still have to complete online.

COURTESY DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

By CHAD GARLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 8, 2018

The Air Force is eliminating mandatory computer-based training on all but three courses and giving commanders wide discretion in how they conduct most ancillary training, the service’s top leaders said in a new memo.

Under the latest guidance, the remaining courses airmen are required to take via computer modules are the Pentagon’s Information Assurance Training-Cyber Awareness Challenge, to be performed annually, and several courses related to the Defense Travel System, or DTS. First-time travelers must complete the two-part DTS basic course and personnel must complete a DTS policy module once every three years.

“Effective immediately, commanders and supervisors are empowered to conduct nearly all mandatory ancillary training as they see fit,” said the memo signed late last month by Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright.

The move follows Pentagon efforts to streamline required training at the direction of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who has put a focus on renewing the combat effectiveness of the force and reducing obligations unrelated to that goal.

The latest changes are being billed as the second phase of an effort that began in October 2016 aimed at cutting excessive or redundant training unrelated to airmen’s primary jobs.

After a review of 42 courses, the earlier phase sought to slash training time by eliminating 15 stand-alone training courses and streamlining 16 others. Nine of the 10 courses airmen identified as most burdensome were cut entirely or in large part.

“Computer-based training will no longer be the primary tool for providing this information unless otherwise directed by law, Department of Defense policy, or a commander entrusted with the mission,” the memo said.

The guidance is the second big change in training requirements for the Air Force in less than a month. A little over two weeks ago, Wright announced that enlisted airmen would no longer be required to complete distance training, known as Course 14 and 15, before attending noncommissioned officer and senior NCO academy resident courses.

That change prompted airmen to post memes on social media expressing their joy and some to praise Wright’s leadership.

The Air Force leaders said the latest changes are just the first of many.

“Today, we’re taking the next steps,” the memo said. “There will be more steps to come.”

The Army, too, has recently slashed requirements leaders deemed burdensome.

Last month, the Army Secretary and Chief of Staff ordered the reduction of some training and administrative requirements in an effort to lighten the task load. Commanders were also given greater discretion in how they provide training.

Gen. Robert Abrams, commander of the Army’s Force Command, said on Twitter in late April that there would be further reductions in administrative tasks announced weekly.

Over the weekend, some commenters on the Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page were skeptical that cutting computer-based coursework would lead to any real change in the training burden, as the courses are still required in some format, such as briefings.

But Courtney Puyear, whose Facebook profile lists him as a crew chief, said the change addresses a problem facing airmen who work in jobs where they’re not sitting behind desks and don’t have regular access to computers. Waiting to use a limited number of shared workstations can add hours to the work day.

“It’s about giving time back to airmen,” Puyear said. “If there were a mass briefing it would be scheduled during that person’s duty day and not added at the end.”

garland.chad@stripes.com
Twitter: @chadgarland

A screen grab of the Defense Travel System computer-based training module. The basic course is done at an airman's first duty station and one of three still required to be done online.
COURTESY DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

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