In order for a high performance track athlete to reach a level needed to compete, he or she needs to have a focused training program, training with an objective. Not all training is the same; there are different kinds of training to achieve different results.
Civilians have been working alongside Airmen since the Revolutionary War when they were hired as skilled tradesmen. In every phase of its operations, the Air Force is dependent to a great extent upon the support of its corps of civilian workers. From the manufacturing and maintaining of Air Force assets to the highest levels of policy-making, these men and women -- "Airmen without uniforms" -- are actively engaged to provide technical, logistical and maintenance capability critical to the Air Force mission. Recognizing that civilian and military personnel often must function as one unit, positive military/civilian working relationships are critical to the successful functioning of the Air Force. The three main differences are the scope and breadth of the work force; the types of instructional systems and the sources of training.
The most notable difference between these two kinds of training is the scope and breadth of the work force. The instruction of Air Force, Air Force Reserve (AFR) and Air National Guard (ANG) personnel through basic military and technical training is primarily focused on enhancing job knowledge, job proficiency and job experience to perform military functions and tasks that are specific to military operations. Conversely civilian training programs are primarily focused on skills and knowledge that are job specific and performance driven. Education focuses on skills and knowledge that are broad based and subject matter driven. Workforce development encompasses both training and education, while focusing on growth opportunities that are career driven.
A military work force must keep up with the latest technologies to be ready for modern warfare. The military recruits novices and trains them to perform many duties. Recruits learn to operate and maintain weapon systems, aircraft, Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) and equipment -- all very complex technologies that require high aptitude and long total force training periods from an apprentice, journeyman, craftsman to senior officer. Technical and skills training is predominately geared towards field level operations, maintenance and servicing to perform daily operations and the war fighting mission
Compared to the military work force the diversity of civilian occupations to support military operations requires training to comply with AS9100 and aerospace qualification and certification standards for performance of specific tasks. The training delivery mix includes a blend of classroom instruction, training labs, special skills qualifications and structured on-the-job training (SOJT) and on-line delivery platforms to include mobile and virtual learning environments. As an example: Air Force civilian training for the three depots is predominately technical and skills training; however, leadership and supervisory training are also provided to the civilian work force as needed.
Title 10, USC rules under which military members are paid, hired, promoted, trained, appraised, given awards, disciplined and retired are different from those governing civilian personnel. Civilian employees are managed within a structure of Title 5, USC federal civil service rules to include those emanating from federal statute, Executive Orders (EO), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), DoD, other federal agencies, and Headquarters Departmnet of the Army (HQDA). Even the regulations governing the delivery of training differ. Compare AFI 36-2201; AFI 36-2013; AFI 36-2301; AETCI 36-2201; AFI 36-2306 for military and AFI 36-401; AFMCI 36-201; AFI 21-101; AFPD 36-4 for civilians.
Military and civilian training comparisons
Comparing both types of training systems we notice another major difference, the types of instructional systems. The person and grade define military duties. There is often a direct relationship of training to career progression. Civilians' duties on the other hand differ depending upon their job classification and grade level. The supervisor assigns the duties IAW qualification/classification standards for the specific position. Military members carry their rank with them regardless of the job they perform. Recruiting for the military force is centrally managed, conducted to fill the military force structure, and generally conducted at entry level. In contrast, civilian positions are filled on a decentralized basis to authorized budget and manpower employment levels. While many civilian employees are recruited at entry levels, recruitment from outside the work force may occur for vacancies at any grade level.
Military and civilian training differences
Airmen have standard, progressive and sequential training systems. Assignments with greater responsibility follow each training level. Formal military training acquired in academic or vocational institutions such as military schools (AETC) or academies and field training detachment (FTD) units. Training for military members focuses on leadership and common military skills and most are mandated by regulation. Training is designed to improve fighting performance under stress and extreme conditions. In contrast, most formal civilian training is delivered on site by the installations organic training organization or through structured on-the-job training programs. Civilian employees require technical skills that are critical to performing depot level repair and overhaul, often taking many years to train the in-depth level of expertise.
Military training follows a set pattern of progression. An individual receives the "1" (helper) skill-level when they enter technical school for the AFSC. Upon graduation from technical school, they receive the "3" (apprentice) skill level. Individuals are normally awarded the "5" (journeyman) skill level after a period of on-the-job training (OJT) and correspondence courses (Called "CDCs"). Depending on the job, this process can last anywhere between 12 and 18 months. Upon promotion to staff sergeant, individuals enter training for the "7" (craftsman) Skill Level. "7" level training consists of more CDCs, more OJT, and (for some jobs) a 7-level technical school. Upon promotion to E-8, the person receives a "9" (superintendent) skill level.
In like manner civilian career development is geared towards general development in occupational areas. An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a document used to set goals and track one's progress toward career growth and development. It is a personal tool for recording developmental goals, plans for taking advantage of developmental opportunities, and the outcome of investing in these activities. It is a document on which you can record, as well as update your progress in taking personal initiative in your career growth. They also provide stability and continuity as military personnel relocate much more frequently than do civilian employees.
Another difference between Military and civilian training are the sources for obtaining the required training. Information and resources about education and training programs in and related to the United States military, including college programs, commissioning programs, technical schools and advanced training are more plentiful for military members, such as, military boarding schools, SOS, ACSC, AWC and other Air Education and Training Command (AETC) military training programs and schools. However, these military school houses often require 6-15 month lead time to forecast and schedule pipeline students. Each year, over 35,000 new recruits go through Air Force Basic Military Training (AFBMT). The new AFBMT is not only designed to teach the fundamentals of military life, but also places great emphasis on the Air Force Expeditionary Force (AEF) deployment cycle, which consists of pre-deployment, deployment and post-deployment phases.
Unlike the military options for obtaining training and education, civilian work force development often relies on in-house functional expertise, on-the-job proficiency training and self-development. Civilians can participate in AETC, SOS, ACSC and AWC college programs, but on a space available basis. Training acquired through the annual installation training plan (AITP) and budget submission process must have strong justification tied to job performance (functional competencies) to receive funding. Training obtained through the Air Force Institute for Advanced Distributed Learning, Defense Acquisition Workforce Certification or Developmental and Rotational Assignments is available to both populations. Additionally civilians can receive training through other DoD education and training programs such as New Hire Orientation and leadership development. Civilians are highly encouraged to participate in Professional Military Education (PME) through distance learning (SOS, ACSC and AWC)
Just as there are differences between the military force and the civilian force there are also some important similarities between the systems.
1. There are legislative and congressional imposed size limitations on both forces.
2. The working relationships within the two forces are based on a superior/subordinate concept.
3. Organizational levels in the staff chain are the same for both systems, i.e., from the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, Headquarters, Department of the Air Force to the installation level.
4. Management functions within both systems address the same issues and concerns of policy, planning, budgeting and evaluating.
5. Leading and caring for subordinates are paramount to both systems.
6. Civilians and officers take the same oath upon entry to the service.