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Do Air Force Personnel Broaden Their Skills During Deployments?

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U.S. Air Force personnel are typically trained to perform jobs in a specific occupational category. However, they may be called upon to perform a variety of jobs during their military careers. Recognizing this, the Air Force has set goals that will require some personnel to acquire skills and competencies in more than one occupational category. For example, an individual with expertise in operations may need to expand hisher understanding of strategy or to improve hisher leadership skills. To assist the Air Force in this effort, RAND Project AIR FORCE PAF conducted a survey to identify the settings in which individuals learn occupational skills and universal competencies outside of their primary occupations, with an emphasis on deployments. Occupational skills are specific to a particular occupation. Universal competencies are applicable across job categories and are expected to some extent among all Air Force personnel. PAF surveyed officers and enlisted personnel who had recently returned from Prince Sultan Air Base PSAB and Eskan Village a military housing facility in Saudi Arabia. The two locations were selected because the Air Force had identified deployments as a likely setting for substantial learning and because a large number of Air Force personnel in a wide variety of occupations were deployed there. Respondents were asked to consider a broad range of skills and competencies and to rank the environments that were most conducive to learning. Environments included initial and mid-career training, the PSABEskan deployment, other deployments, and settings outside the Air Force. Major findings include the following personnel learn skills outside of their specialty during deployments, and personnel identified the PSABEskan Village deployment as the best environment for learning more than one-third of the skills and competencies listed on the survey.

Subject Categories:

  • Psychology
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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