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sbongi

ABM slot

Question

I'm a cadet and I was just offered an ABM slot.  I was just looking to find out the pro's and con's of becoming an ABM as well as any advice people have on the subject. 

So far, people have told me that it's a stressful job, there's low retention, there aren't a lot of civilian careers that can utilize an ABM's training/skillset, ABM's get deployed a lot.  Can anyone comment on or verify any of these things?

Thanks!

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Reference the linked thread below.

Going forward, please use the search feature to look for existing threads that cover your topic before creating a new one. It's one of the business rules that keeps this forum useful by ensuring good information is consolidated instead of getting lost in a thousand separate threads.

To your questions, I'm not an ABM but I used to read maps to people that drove them around (i.e. AWACS nav) before I switched airframes... Stressful yes, but so are all rated jobs. Becoming a good ABM is probably more stressful than some rated jobs because it requires you to learn the technical details of your own platform (AWACS/JSTARS/CRC), the art and science of controlling (e.g. prioritizing comm based on what's happening, the comm plan for your fight, whether datalinks are working, etc), and the TTPs of our CAF fighters (how you do business changes significantly based on the fighters you're controlling, their sensors, their datalinks, and the kinematics of their missiles... and ditto for the bad guys' characteristics). If you take the slot, embrace that stress, take it as a challenge to master the knowledge/skills, and be proud you get paid to do something most people in the Air Force don't have the mental capacity for.

Not a lot of civilian careers utilizing their training/skillset? Not to the same degree as pilots... You're not going to go be an ABM for Delta... But lots of former ABMs go into industry jobs (think program and project management or technical writing for Boeing and other contractors that support weapon systems with ABMs), contract instruction (e.g. those that support academic/sim training at Tyndall, Tinker, as well as companies that teach CRM), civil service (AF/DoD civilian), and management jobs in the corporate world that utilize the leadership/management skills all AF officers should theoretically be learning/using. Not to mention, within the Air Force a lot of ABMs wind up working in air defense roles, as Air Liaison Officers (ALOs), and as datalink managers, all of which open other doors.

ABMs get deployed a lot? It was true in my day, probably more true now. Everybody in the Air Force deploys a lot. In the rated world, those that don't "deploy" a lot are probably either on the road more than those that do (e.g. AMC bubbas) or wish they could deploy (e.g. RPA drivers).

Big picture: Don't say "No" to any rated job. If you want to be a pilot, try to work your way onto the alternate list for pilot/RPA/CSO. Take the best thing you can get out of your commissioning source. Then excel at your assigned job. Then as soon as you are eligible (2 years into your career field), apply for the active duty UFT board (I know several ABMs that became pilots). But I would imagine most people on this forum would agree, any rated job is better than every non-rated job.

 

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