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Stressed officer career fields jump from 6 to 11

Apr. 29, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Pararescueman and combat rescue officer are on the list of undermanned Air Force Specialty Codes this year. They are among 14 enlisted and 11 officer AFSCs considered 'stressed.'
Pararescueman and combat rescue officer are on the list of undermanned Air Force Specialty Codes this year. They are among 14 enlisted and 11 officer AFSCs considered 'stressed.' (Jared McGilliard/National Geographic Channel)
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Stressed Officer Career Fields

11H Helicopter pilot
11R Reconnaissance/surveillance/electronic warfare pilot
11S Special operations pilot
12M Mobility combat systems officer
13C Special tactics
13D Combat rescue
13L Air liaison officer
14N Intelligence
32E Civil engineer
35P Public affairs
64P Contracting
1A8 Airborne crypto/ISR operations
1C2 Combat control
1C4 Tactical Air Control Party
1N0 Operations intel
1N4 Fusion analyst
1T2 Pararescue
1W0 Special ops weather
3E2 Pavements & construction
3E3 Structural
3E4 Water & fuel sys. maint./pest
3E5 Engineering
3E8 Explosive ordnance disposal
3P0 Security forces
6C0 Contracting


The Air Force’s retention of its active-duty members remains high, but certain career fields continue to experience enough high operational demand, low manning and insufficient retention to land them on the service’s stressed career field list.

The number of stressed officer career fields has grown from six last year to 11 this year, while the number of enlisted stressed careers dropped from 15 to 14, with imagery analyst falling off the list.

Jerry Diaz, chief of force management and enterprise readiness analysis division said the service assesses the health of its career fields and publishes stress levels each quarter.

Stress is measured in terms of operational demand and career field health, and the list of stress career fields can fluctuate on a quarterly basis, he said.

“The Air Force uses the list as one of the inputs to manage the [Air Force specialty codes],” he said. “AFSCs with the most severe operational demand make the list.”

To attract and keep officers in the stressed career fields, the Air Force employs specific tools, such as an initial enlistment bonus, increasing the training pipeline, retraining airmen, selective re-enlistment bonuses, or critical skills retention bonuses. Enlisted airmen with critical skills are offered initial enlistment, critical skills and retention bonuses.

The president’s 2014 budget of $894.2 million for special and incentive pay, allocates about $32.3 million less than it did in 2013.

In a prepared statements provided to a Senate Armed Services subcommittee on personnel, Air Force personnel officials said overall officer retention is just below its 2010 all-time high of 15.9 years. In 2012, the average officer career length was 14.8 years of service.

Because enlisted airmen remain slightly above end strength, the service is using both involuntary and involuntary measures to push more airmen out the door, but selective re-enlistment bonuses are being used to encourage battlefield airmen, intelligence and career enlisted aviators to stay, and airmen in overmanned fields to retrain into career fields with high demand requirements.■

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