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One issue is on paper there is no difference between an O-5 line IP and an O-3 line IP. There is nothing to credentialize any value added by an IP with an additional 5-6 years of experience. 
Really there is a good case for a non flying track but the AF needs to look at several angles on it, not just making non promotable O-4s who still deploy and take staff jobs. 
1.) How do you continue to develop and broaden a line IP who is no longer promotable? What will you do to make him more lethal, more valuable to the AF? 
2.) How do you compensate people on a fly only track to be competitive with the airlines, while recognizing they are never going to advance beyond technical/tactical experts in the AF. 
3.) How many pilots do you REALLY need on a fly only track? 1-3 of these types per a squadron is probably the max neccessary. 
So really there needs to be 3 career tracks at hitting FGO. A fly only track, a command track, but then also a staff track that continues to develop you as an officer and puts you in a position to protect the fly only track types from non flying gigs. How do you incentivize that though? 
The key problem in all of this is unless you are on the command track the AF has no means to continue developing you. So you flatten out and lose appeal. 


There's one paper difference between an O-3 or O-5 line IP; one will be a basic pilot (or maybe senior pilot), and the latter will be a command pilot, which at least captures flying gates/time/hours experience in the paper record. I agree it may be hard to quantify the value of having an older, more experienced instructor pilot though, since they both could fill the same spot on the manning document.

1) Not sure you'd have to broaden a Fly Only guy- they are there to be a technical expert. So I'd guess they'd work in training and stan/eval only, and be your core group of evaluators. But opportunities for CATS/MECOC, WIC, etc should still be afforded to them, or maybe emphasized for them. On there flip side, does someone on the staff need to be an instructor to progress?

2) I think the AF doesn't see a way to compete directly with the airlines anymore, and it's just banking on the airlines not being able to hire everyone, especially if there's a bigger pool of CGO pilots to begin with. Even if they get out, there's a good chance they'll go to the guard or reserves, so the AF still retains the experience. But you've got a valid question- maybe a pro-pay for fly only guys that pays them on par with a major? Doesn't help with the budget, but helps with numbers in each grade.

3) I think you're in the right ballpark here. The other challenge would be commanders using them appropriately, especially since they'll likely have less tolerance for BS since there's fewer carrots out there for them (command, etc)

Another question is if you can cross between tracks. Maybe allow that Capt who's been in for 16 years up to the staff to bring their operational insight there. Or allow a major that isn't going to command to go back to line fly only.

Would having an operational equivalent to AETC's master instructor make sense to differentiate the extra experience?

We may start looking more like the Navy, where there's a good number of aviators that get out/forced out of they don't even for department head.

I don't think comparisons to army WOs make sense, since those guys can't make a direct jump to the airlines (even with the rotor-to-ATP path some regionals were doing given the state of the industry right now), so it makes it hard to draw parallels.
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3 minutes ago, jazzdude said:


 

 


There's one paper difference between an O-3 or O-5 line IP; one will be a basic pilot (or maybe senior pilot), and the latter will be a command pilot, which at least captures flying gates/time/hours experience in the paper record. I agree it may be hard to quantify the value of having an older, more experienced instructor pilot though, since they both could fill the same spot on the manning document.

1) Not sure you'd have to broaden a Fly Only guy- they are there to be a technical expert. So I'd guess they'd work in training and stan/eval only, and be your core group of evaluators. But opportunities for CATS/MECOC, WIC, etc should still be afforded to them, or maybe emphasized for them. On there flip side, does someone on the staff need to be an instructor to progress?

2) I think the AF doesn't see a way to compete directly with the airlines anymore, and it's just banking on the airlines not being able to hire everyone, especially if there's a bigger pool of CGO pilots to begin with. Even if they get out, there's a good chance they'll go to the guard or reserves, so the AF still retains the experience. But you've got a valid question- maybe a pro-pay for fly only guys that pays them on par with a major? Doesn't help with the budget, but helps with numbers in each grade.

3) I think you're in the right ballpark here. The other challenge would be commanders using them appropriately, especially since they'll likely have less tolerance for BS since there's fewer carrots out there for them (command, etc)

Another question is if you can cross between tracks. Maybe allow that Capt who's been in for 16 years up to the staff to bring their operational insight there. Or allow a major that isn't going to command to go back to line fly only.

Would having an operational equivalent to AETC's master instructor make sense to differentiate the extra experience?

We may start looking more like the Navy, where there's a good number of aviators that get out/forced out of they don't even for department head.

I don't think comparisons to army WOs make sense, since those guys can't make a direct jump to the airlines (even with the rotor-to-ATP path some regionals were doing given the state of the industry right now), so it makes it hard to draw parallels.

 

All good points. I think what I was getting at is you need to continue to build the skill set and on a fly only track you can target breadth over depth. Maybe put these guys into cross flow programs where they can bring one platforms insight to another, get them into the AETC wickets deciding how to build better pilots, WIC for sure, but you need WIC guys on staff as well so that's tricky. Test is another good place that expereince pays dividends at the tactical level. Perhaps rebrand the idea behind evaluators to be a position reserved for these folks and stop making a Captain with 1 year of IP expereince the highest flight qual in the AF. (Ive always felt Evaluator is a job better performed by Majors/Lt Cold with that big picture perspective) 

I guess the frustration for me is, when I hit my late 30s, my career should be rocket shipping to my max earnings potential. In the AF though, we do that at Capt to Major and then after Major if you are not on the command track you basically shallow out to retirement. It makes the appeal of staying in so much less. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, FLEA said:

One issue is on paper there is no difference between an O-5 line IP and an O-3 line IP. There is nothing to credentialize any value added by an IP with an additional 5-6 years of experience.

Is there not still Senior and Command Pilot Wings? (There are, and Unicorns still wear them)

Is there not a Master Instructor rating from AETC? (There is...)

For both of these the AF doesn't, practically as in benefits, value them. Commanders get additional pay do Master Instructors? Or Command Pilots? Who gets preference? Commanders get to schedule themselves, do Senior Pilots?

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FLEA, also some well thought out points on what a fly only track would look like and how they could be utilized.


I guess the frustration for me is, when I hit my late 30s, my career should be rocket shipping to my max earnings potential. In the AF though, we do that at Capt to Major and then after Major if you are not on the command track you basically shallow out to retirement. It makes the appeal of staying in so much less. 


I get this sentiment, the hard part is that everyone values different things. Yeah, compared to working out in industry, 30s-40s should be your high earning years, with his contributions being made towards retirement.

(The next couple paragraphs aren't to say you're wrong, but it's just my personal calculus on career earnings and retirement planning)

But with a potential for a government pension, I think you could change the math a bit, and even though the bank account may not need big now, having that defined benefit (which starts when you're relatability young, i.e. early 40s) is valuable. I think retired major's pay is roughly equivalent to having $2-2.5M in the retirement account at age 60, with the added benefit of not having to manage an investment portfolio. Risk though is not making it to retirement (separation between say 14-18 years of service). Cheap access to decent healthcare for life, and maybe passing down GI Bill (plus any yellow ribbon programs states may offer) to your kids also has monetary value that you can add into your compensation calculus.

At least that's my reasoning for staying in, and deciding to take a bonus that took me to 20 (which gives a nice pay bump at the career sweet spot you mentioned, and helped push me over the edge to committing to stay in to 20, and is getting invested in my retirement accounts for a second retirement income stream). I still scratch my head at people that take a 3 year bonus, unless maybe they're hedging their bets on a second, better bonus, since getting out at 15 years generally doesn't make sense to me, especially if their goal was to go to the airlines.

The other problem is what you identified. How does someone on a fly only track feel like they are progressing in their career? That one's tough, especially since there's a lot of type-A personalities in military aviation, and there's no real position/job to aspire to on our current structure, or likely any future structure, for a fly only track. I'd imagine it's the same problem as being a line pilot at the airlines, though without being paid a lot of money with time off to spend it. I know the Brits have Flight LTs, who are fly only; maybe it's a cultural difference or career expectation difference that keeps those guys happy flying the line when compared to peers on the leadership track. This is the harder retention problem, meaningful work and career progression, and the AF listening to individual officers about what their goals are. Sure, there are crap jobs out there that need to be filled (and minimized), but maybe the AF can sweeten the deal with assignment of choice (with orders in hand before the crap deal) or some other incentive.

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33 minutes ago, jazzdude said:

FLEA, also some well thought out points on what a fly only track would look like and how they could be utilized.
 

 


I get this sentiment, the hard part is that everyone values different things. Yeah, compared to working out in industry, 30s-40s should be your high earning years, with his contributions being made towards retirement.

(The next couple paragraphs aren't to say you're wrong, but it's just my personal calculus on career earnings and retirement planning)

But with a potential for a government pension, I think you could change the math a bit, and even though the bank account may not need big now, having that defined benefit (which starts when you're relatability young, i.e. early 40s) is valuable. I think retired major's pay is roughly equivalent to having $2-2.5M in the retirement account at age 60, with the added benefit of not having to manage an investment portfolio. Risk though is not making it to retirement (separation between say 14-18 years of service). Cheap access to decent healthcare for life, and maybe passing down GI Bill (plus any yellow ribbon programs states may offer) to your kids also has monetary value that you can add into your compensation calculus.

At least that's my reasoning for staying in, and deciding to take a bonus that took me to 20 (which gives a nice pay bump at the career sweet spot you mentioned, and helped push me over the edge to committing to stay in to 20, and is getting invested in my retirement accounts for a second retirement income stream). I still scratch my head at people that take a 3 year bonus, unless maybe they're hedging their bets on a second, better bonus, since getting out at 15 years generally doesn't make sense to me, especially if their goal was to go to the airlines.

The other problem is what you identified. How does someone on a fly only track feel like they are progressing in their career? That one's tough, especially since there's a lot of type-A personalities in military aviation, and there's no real position/job to aspire to on our current structure, or likely any future structure, for a fly only track. I'd imagine it's the same problem as being a line pilot at the airlines, though without being paid a lot of money with time off to spend it. I know the Brits have Flight LTs, who are fly only; maybe it's a cultural difference or career expectation difference that keeps those guys happy flying the line when compared to peers on the leadership track. This is the harder retention problem, meaningful work and career progression, and the AF listening to individual officers about what their goals are. Sure, there are crap jobs out there that need to be filled (and minimized), but maybe the AF can sweeten the deal with assignment of choice (with orders in hand before the crap deal) or some other incentive.
 

 

Taking the bonus is a good chunk of change but it also limits your options. Even if you are thinking of staying for 20, not taking the bonus means you have a little more leverage when talking to AFPC about your next assignment.  I haven't confirmed this but it also makes sense that dudes without a ADSC wouldn't be first in line for bad assignments. It also allows you to pull chocks if you get an absolutely horrendous assignment.

That being said, its hard to turn down extra money...

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1 hour ago, jazzdude said:

I think retired major's pay is roughly equivalent to having $2-2.5M in the retirement account at age 60, with the added benefit of not having to manage an investment portfolio.

Retired majors make ~4200 a month or 50k a year under legacy. It’s closer to being the equivalent of 1.3-1.5M if you use a SWR of 3.5-4%, but close enough.

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28 minutes ago, brwwg&b said:

They don't, because they don't care about that.

I dont think thats true. You just have to figure out how that crop wants to be developed. No, they probably don't want crap like ACSC because that shit is designed for people going to command or work on a staff. However, they may appreciate a year long internship with the FAA/NTSB, cross training to a different weapons platform, late turn options to WIC/TPS, etc... 

But I think there is a crop of people who really want to see the AF become like the airlines in the sense that you make six figures doing nothing but just showing up to work, getting the mission packet, and coming home 8 hours later. Thats never going to happen in a military organization that needs people to constantly be thinking about how to be more lethal. That requires people who want to challenge their capabilities routinely. Those people will always be happier separating and the AF needs to be overt about that with those individuals. 

Edited by FLEA
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Taking the bonus is a good chunk of change but it also limits your options. Even if you are thinking of staying for 20, not taking the bonus means you have a little more leverage when talking to AFPC about your next assignment.  I haven't confirmed this but it also makes sense that dudes without a ADSC wouldn't be first in line for bad assignments. It also allows you to pull chocks if you get an absolutely horrendous assignment.
That being said, its hard to turn down extra money...


Completely understand your reasoning.

But for me, as I was weighing staying in vs getting out, and bonus vs no bonus, it didn't make sense for me to stay in and try to make retirement and not take the bonus. Couldn't see me realistically 7 day opting an assignment close to being retirement eligible. And given the current state of pilot retention and the bathtub in my year group, I don't see a high likelihood the AF would RIF me before retirement. The MyVector assignments process seems to be an improvement (or maybe I just got lucky last time around). And the bonus was a nice addition to the "pro" column in the decision making process.

But I had my wife's support to stay in and shoot for retirement, so we decided it was in our best interest to take the bonus, work to control what we can, and roll with the punches of we need to. And just for reference (in case it matters), I'm not a shiny penny type, and have had my share of both good and bad luck in my career.

Not saying my reasoning is right for everyone, or better than yours, but it's what works for me and my family.

Don't think AFPC considers ADSC for assignments, but could be wrong. It might make sense on the surface (though it's probably just being paranoid), but I think the flesh peddlers at AFPC don't really care/don't keep it in their cross check. Maybe they do put out the feelers for bad 365s so they don't get a wave of 3 day opts, but I doubt they put the same amount of attention on regular assignments. Plus with where pilot manning is, if you don't want to go to staff and just keep flying, you probably won't go to staff. Which is why I like MyVector, I can rank order everything available out there that'd I'd be fine with, improving my odds of getting what I'd want or at least be fine with (lots of jobs out there that I didn't know existed, or wouldn't waste space under the old dream sheet), while making AFPC's job of meeting AF needs while lining up people with assignments they want easier for them.
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Retired majors make ~4200 a month or 50k a year under legacy. It’s closer to being the equivalent of 1.3-1.5M if you use a SWR of 3.5-4%, but close enough.


Fair enough, thanks for the correction. My numbers may have been based on retirement money in the bank at 42 with the typical 4% withdrawal rate starting then vs at 65
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18 minutes ago, jazzdude said:

Don't think AFPC considers ADSC for assignments, but could be wrong. It might make sense on the surface (though it's probably just being paranoid), but I think the flesh peddlers at AFPC don't really care/don't keep it in their cross check. Maybe they do put out the feelers for bad 365s so they don't get a wave of 3 day opts, but I doubt they put the same amount of attention on regular assignments. Plus with where pilot manning is, if you don't want to go to staff and just keep flying, you probably won't go to staff. Which is why I like MyVector, I can rank order everything available out there that'd I'd be fine with, improving my odds of getting what I'd want or at least be fine with (lots of jobs out there that I didn't know existed, or wouldn't waste space under the old dream sheet), while making AFPC's job of meeting AF needs while lining up people with assignments they want easier for them.

For cyber peeps ADSC was a consideration after a few other factors (shiny penny, training, etc.) but according to my buds at the slaughterhouse it was there.  Since our jobs got realigned to more actual Ops...who knows if it's more/less important.  But it was part of the vectoring/assignment discussion, sometimes in the shitiest way possible.

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1 hour ago, FLEA said:

I dont think thats true. You just have to figure out how that crop wants to be developed. No, they probably don't want crap like ACSC because that shit is designed for people going to command or work on a staff. However, they may appreciate a year long internship with the FAA/NTSB, cross training to a different weapons platform, late turn options to WIC/TPS, etc... 

But I think there is a crop of people who really want to see the AF become like the airlines in the sense that you make six figures doing nothing but just showing up to work, getting the mission packet, and coming home 8 hours later.

Ok, yeah all fair points.

So, I could see a fly only track basically having the branches - tactics, training, test, safety. I think you're right about having later than normal windows available for those who elect to go that path. So maybe target like a 10-11 year point for either getting to WIC, expecting multiple AETC tours sprinkled in, TPS, or like you said, FAA/NTSB for the safety types.

Totally agree on the latter - that's a mindset which needs to be changed or removed.

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Interesting discussion. For all the legitimate gripes [and gratuitous sport-bitches alike] I have about AFRC, I can say they've haven't yet treated the nuances of my career motivations with the level of backhanded derision intimated on this thread of much of AD. In further fairness to AFRC, at least under my current NAF, they've made inroads towards keeping the conga line moving on the promotion front for those so interested in management, by converting line O-5 AGR positions into term billets. Separating them from those of us in non-term (AFRC speak for voluntary-permanent) positions (an O-4 control grade). This is being done in order to not get stuck with MSD "squatters" in O-5 AGRs who tended to time out younger guys with aspirations/grooming for command. That had been a legitimate problem for a decade plus. 

Shocker as it may be to the AD audience, not everybody has a penchant for making O-5 as the litmus test for feeling dignified/properly compensated in life. The ARC doesn't penalize you for it by forcing an up-or-out on the lower (O-4) control grade. I think that was a good balance and compromise all things considered. One man's opinion and all that.

Of course, one is encouraged to keep all avenues open, which is why I completed ACSC DL. But my point is that in general, nobody around here is shaming me (so far) for taking pride in being a high time IP/EP, expending my time and energy in mentorship roles in ADCON/OPCON alike, while looking forward to a very much earned 20-24yr O-4 (or even O-5 in the right circumstances) AD retirement and Tricare in my late 40s. Based on this thread, it's clear to me  that is viewed with derision if not outright contempt in AD. Maybe they should work on that cultural blind spot. 

I suppose if one wanted to be believed when uttering that tactical experts are indeed a quantity to be valued/retained, perhaps don't start off the salvo by insinuating that role should be compensated at the level of a slick wing O-3 with no bonus, just because the O-5 aspirants regard flight ops to be menial CGO scutwork on their way to middle management. Dynamic which I find ironic, given half of them weren't worth a shit at flying/employing in the first place. I could further retort that AD grants IP/EP credentials to these managers-in-training waaay too soon/liberally for their britches, leading AD flying organizations looking like a bunch of unsupervised children who end up bending metal, while petulantly smearing the bystanders' (ANG/AFRC Silverbacks and Iron-Majors et al) warnings as ramblings of irrelevant malcontents. I could further point at the dozen or so class-As as exhibit A thru L to further illustrate the fruits of that blind spot, but I think I've made my point, so I  digress.

I like some of the ideas floated previously, especially a non-punitive look at later-in-life opportunities to cross-flow/special flying programs. "Choose your own adventure" indeed. Cheers!

 

Edited by hindsight2020
Trying to dumb it down...failed.
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hindsight i roll my eyes every time i read your posts, but then after re-reading them almost always agree with the basic theme you're trying to get across! ha!

very much agree with giving out IP/EP too early....seems like EP is given to "check the box" for the shiny pennies...at least anecdotal experience

Edited by BashiChuni
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10 minutes ago, BashiChuni said:

hindsight i roll my eyes every time i read your posts, but then after re-reading them almost always agree with the basic theme you're trying to get across! ha!

You should catch his live act sometime.  Totally worth the cover plus two drink minimum.  🤘

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14 hours ago, jazzdude said:


Don't think AFPC considers ADSC for assignments, but could be wrong. It might make sense on the surface (though it's probably just being paranoid), but I think the flesh peddlers at AFPC don't really care/don't keep it in their cross check. Maybe they do put out the feelers for bad 365s so they don't get a wave of 3 day opts, but I doubt they put the same amount of attention on regular assignments. Plus with where pilot manning is, if you don't want to go to staff and just keep flying, you probably won't go to staff. Which is why I like MyVector, I can rank order everything available out there that'd I'd be fine with, improving my odds of getting what I'd want or at least be fine with (lots of jobs out there that I didn't know existed, or wouldn't waste space under the old dream sheet), while making AFPC's job of meeting AF needs while lining up people with assignments they want easier for them.

 

They don't.  If they did, we wouldn't lose a bunch of pilots every time a 365 came down.  

Maybe it's gotten better, but a few years ago my DO got a 365 with about a week's worth of notice because 10 other people opted to get out of the Air Force instead of taking it.  

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On 12/3/2020 at 7:06 AM, pawnman said:

They don't.  If they did, we wouldn't lose a bunch of pilots every time a 365 came down.  

Maybe it's gotten better, but a few years ago my DO got a 365 with about a week's worth of notice because 10 other people opted to get out of the Air Force instead of taking it.  

It may not get you out of 365s but I know a lucky few that were released and selected for special programs where the ADSC became a factor in releasability. According to the A1 our field is quite undermanned and getting released for anything outside flying the line is a real pain.

I doubt they would fess up here but I would be interested to hear from anyone that worked assignments. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...
anyone that was a non-select on the last O5 board do that briefing with AFPC? 

Yes, did mine in October or November. They compare your records to the bottom 10 above the cut line. Biggest takeaway was having Definitely Promote on your push line if you don’t have the box checked. Strats, of course, matter. I didn’t have any FGO awards, but he said that was offset by the CGO awards I had. SDE push lines on OPRs help. Jobs above the Wing level help. Basically all things that it’s probably too late to improve on.


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  • 2 weeks later...
5 hours ago, BeefBears said:

https://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2499406/all-services-including-department-of-the-air-force-to-furnish-adverse-informati/

Seems like the one-mistake air force just got a little more one-mistakier.  It even retroactively includes all paperwork and inquiries/investigations back to 2012. 

So it seems like the big change is that LOCs and LOAs will now need to generate a UIF or find some other mechanism to ensure they get to the board. I don't think people that make these decisions recognize the full fallout though. There was already a hesitation to give officers discipline except in the most extreme of circumstances. This is just going to amplify that. 

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https://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2499406/all-services-including-department-of-the-air-force-to-furnish-adverse-informati/
Seems like the one-mistake air force just got a little more one-mistakier.  It even retroactively includes all paperwork and inquiries/investigations back to 2012. 


“We’re not a one mistake Air Force”

2021: “Hold my beer”

What a troubling force shaping decision this is...


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