Jacks of All Trades or Masters of Some Alternatives for Occupational Specialization in USAF Space Operations
Muir S. Fairchild Research Information Center Montgomery United States
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This study examines the question of occupational specialization applied to United States Air Force USAF space operations. It begins with a historical look at the services approach to specialization illustrating how the USAFs singular space operations officer career field directly contrasts with the services traditional model for operations, which is more highly differentiated. The paper argues that the space operations career fields monolithic structure points to a preference for generalists in this area of operations, rather than more narrowly focused tactical experts. Acknowledging that a bias toward occupational breadth functioned adequately in an era in which space was not an actively contested military domain, the paper examines concerns about operator expertise that arise when considering a future operational space environment likely to rely more on tactical, time-compressed decision-making. The thesis asserts that future operational tasks associated with electronic warfare, orbital combat, and space battle management are areas that may require future specialization in order to achieve needed proficiency levels. It identifies several possible alternatives for career field restructuring, to include a semi-formal specialization model and a formalized specialization approach. Maintaining the status quo would require the least investment but would pose the most operational risk over the long term. The semi-formal model would retain some organizational agility and flexibility in the development and assignment of operators but would be more susceptible to disruption as leaders move on or business rule enforcement breaks down over time. The formal model offers the greatest opportunity for lasting change but would require significant upfront investment and a tolerance for administrative disruption.
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations