On average, Air Force personnel deploy far less than Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines. In January 2009, the Air Force is changing the way they deploy their troops. Under the "old" system, the Air Force assigned each deployable squadron to an Air Expeditionary Force (AEF). There may be several squadrons, from different bases assigned to a single AEF. The AEFs then take turns, rotating in and out of a "deployment window." Under this concept, Airmen assigned to a squadron that was part of an AEF deployed on average of 4 months, every 20 months. However, this didn't work so well. Airmen sometimes found their deployments extended from four months to six months as the service filled manpower gaps, and those in high-demand fields (such as Combat Controller, Pararescue, Security Forces, and Tactical Air Command and Control ), found themselves deployed much more often.
Beginning in January 2009, the Air Force is switching to a program called "Tempo Bands." Each Air Force job will be assigned to a specific tempo band, ranging from Band A to Band E, which will tell the Airman how often he/she can expect to deploy. The band decisions are made by matching predicted deployment demands for Air Force specialties against the number of airmen available to deploy in that specialty:
- Band A. Those in Air Force jobs assigned to Band A can expect to deploy 6 months every 24 months. Some of the career fields that have already been placed in this band include fuels, paralegal, finance, and safety.
- Band B. Airmen in Band B can expect to deploy 6 months every 30 months. So far, no Air Force career field has been placed in this band.
- Band C. Those in Band C can expect to be deployed for 6 months every 24 months. Band C includes medical personnel (except behavioral health ), supply, communications, weather, public affairs and logistics planning.
- Band D. Individuals in Band D can expect to be deployed for 6 months every 18 months. Band D includes include aerial port, vehicle operations, traffic management, vehical management, air traffic controllers, OSI, behavioral health, command post and civil engineering.
- Band E. These folks can expect to deploy six months out of every year. Band E includes contracting, intelligence, airfield management, security forces, and Tactical Air Command and Control. While technically in Band E, special operation fields ( Combat Controller and Pararescue ) can expect more frequent deployments (although usually shorter in duration) for specific special operations missions.
Once all of the band assignments have been decided (Jan 09), Airmen can find out what band they are in by going to their online personnel records at the Air Force’s “Virtual Military Personnel Flight” Web site at www.my.af.mil/.
The Air Force also has a program where volunteers can sign up to fill short-falls in upcoming AEF deployments by putting their name on the "Enabler List."
Finally, the Air Force taps (both volunteers and non-volunteers) about 2,000 airmen per year for "In Lieu of Taskings." Those selected work outside of their regular Air Force job, and are deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan (usually for 12 months) to assist the Army and Marine Corps with combat missions and patrols.
Want to read more about the pros and cons of choosing the Air Force?
- Recruiting Environment
- Enlistment Incentives
- Job Opportunities
- Basic Training
- Assignment Opportunities
- Quality of Life
- Promotion Opportunities
- Educational Opportunities
- Enlisted Commissioning Programs
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