Notes on Air Force Handbook 1, dated 1 Nov 21, Chapter 6, Enlisted Force Development


7 Feb 2022. The 2021 Air Force Handbook is not available and may not exist. The E-5 and E-6 Study Guides were released and posted to the official Air Force website (https://www.studyguides.af.mil/) on 1 Feb 2022. This website was updated using the content from the E-6 Study Guide under the assumption that both study guides contained the same content. However, there are differences between the two study guides as noted below. Questions related to these differences have been removed or edited, as necessary, to avoid conflict between the two versions and ensure accuracy.

The phrase, "Air Force", was replaced globally by "USAF" in the E-5 Study Guide.

Paragraph numbering for Section E, Training Responsibilities, is different: E-5 Study Guide has 6.12. thru 6.19. E-6 Study Guide has Section E as 6.8. thru 6.16.


2021 E5 Study Guide

6.13. Basic Military Training

All enlisted Airmen are trained in the fundamental skills necessary to be successful in the USAF. These skills include basic combat skills, field training exercises, weapons training, military discipline, physical fitness, drill and ceremonies, dormitory inspections, history and heritage, core values, and a comprehensive range of subjects relating to USAF life, such as financial management, family issues, and alcohol/substance abuse. More than seven million young men and women have entered USAF basic military training. Basic military training begins with the receiving phase (zero week) and ends with graduation. Military training instructors are responsible for most of the training that takes place, and they accompany trainees throughout the training process. Following graduation, all Airmen proceed to the appropriate technical training school or their first duty assignment. Technical training typically lasts anywhere from one month to two years, depending on the Airman's assigned Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC).

2021 E6 Study Guide

6.9. Basic Military Training

All enlisted Airmen are trained in the fundamental skills necessary to be successful in the Air Force. These skills include basic combat skills, field training exercises, weapons training, military discipline, physical fitness, drill and ceremonies, dormitory inspections, history and heritage, core values, and a comprehensive range of subjects relating to Air Force life, such as financial management, family issues, and alcohol/substance abuse. More than seven million young men and women have entered Air Force basic military training. Basic military training begins with the receiving phase (zero week) and ends with graduation. Military training instructors are responsible for most of the training that takes place, and they accompany trainees throughout the training process. Following graduation, all Airmen proceed to the appropriate technical training school or their first duty assignment. Technical training typically lasts anywhere from one month to two years, depending on the Airman's assigned Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC).

2021 E5 Study Guide

6.15. Upgrade Training
Upgrade training leads to award of higher skill levels and is designed to increase skills and abilities. AFSC upgrade training requirements for award of 3-, 5-, 7-, and 9-skill levels are outlined AFMAN 36-2100, Military Utilization and Classification, 7 April 2021, Department of the Air Force Instructions (DAFI) 36-2670, Total Force Development, 12 October 2021, and the applicable CFETP.

2021 E6 Study Guide

6.11. Upgrade Training
Upgrade training leads to award of higher skill levels and is designed to increase skills and abilities. AFSC upgrade training requirements for award of 3-, 5-, 7-, and 9-skill levels are outlined AFMAN 36-2100, Military Utilization and Classification, AFI 36-2670, Force Development, and the applicable CFETP.

2021 E5 Study Guide

6.18. Retraining Program
The retraining program is designed to balance the number of personnel in specific grades and year groups of an USAF specialty. Once retraining is approved and the Airman has been assigned duty in the new specialty, upgrade training begins. With minor exceptions, training requirements are identical for retrainees and standard upgrade trainees. Refer to AFMAN 36-2100 for additional details.

2021 E6 Study Guide

6.15. Retraining Program
The retraining program is designed to balance the number of personnel in specific grades and year groups of an Air Force specialty. Once retraining is approved and the Airman has been assigned duty in the new specialty, upgrade training begins. With minor exceptions, training requirements are identical for retrainees and standard upgrade trainees. Refer to AFI 36-2626, Airman Retraining Program, for additional details.



Changes since 2019 Edition of Air Force Handbook

Section 6A. Leadership Levels (for promotion to E-6 only)

Paragraph 6.2., Continuum of Learning, taken from AFH-1 2019, paragraph 7.2., was revised. In the 2019 edition of the Air Force Handbook, the terms, Institutional and Occupational, were used to distinguish between management skills and AFSC skill proficiency. In the 2021 E-6 Study Guide, the term used to describe management skills changed from "Institutional" to "Foundational" in this and in following paragraphs.

2021 E6 Study Guide

6.2. Continuum of Learning Force development generally results in leadership, management, and warrior ethos proficiency. The force development construct is a framework that links developmental needs with foundational competencies through the continuum of learning. Occupational competency development generally results in technical skill proficiency. The continuum of learning, along with the defined competencies, are aligned to ensure Airmen are qualified and ready to meet the challenges of current and future operating environments. The continuum of learning is a career-long process of development where challenging experiences are combined with education and training through a common taxonomy to produce Airmen who possess the tactical expertise, operational competence, and strategic vision to lead and execute the full-spectrum of Air Force missions.

The three distinct levels associated with leadership skills are: tactical expertise, operational competence, and strategic vision. These levels are recognized with varying emphasis across the foundational competencies. As Airmen progress from tactical expertise to strategic vision leadership levels, emphasis on the use of foundational competencies shifts to a broader focus. The nature and scope of leadership as well as preferred leadership methods differ based on the level of leadership and responsibilities.

Tactical Expertise. Development at the tactical expertise level includes a general understanding of team leadership and an appreciation for organization leadership. It is a time to master core duty skills, gain experience in applying those skills, and begin acquiring knowledge and experience essential for demonstrating effective, ethical leadership. Airmen at the tactical expertise level learn to become the Air Force's primary technicians and specialists, assimilate into the Air Force culture, and adopt the Air Force core values. The tactical expertise level is a time for honing followership abilities, motivating subordinates, and influencing peers to accomplish the mission while developing a warrior ethos and exercising communication skills as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Operational Competence. Development at the operational competence leadership level includes developing a broader understanding of the Air Force perspective and the integration of diverse people and capabilities in operational execution. It is a time to transition from specialists to leaders with an understanding of themselves as leaders and followers, while applying an understanding of organizational and team dynamics. It is a time to lead teams by developing and inspiring others, taking care of people, and taking advantage of diversity. It is a time to foster collaborative relationships through building teams and coalitions, especially within large organizations, and negotiating with others, often external to the organization. The majority of enlisted Airmen operate at the tactical expertise and operational competence levels.

Strategic Vision. Development at the strategic vision level includes combining highly developed personal and people/team institutional competencies, applying broad organizational competencies, and leading and directing exceptionally complex and multi-tiered organizations. It is a time to develop a deep understanding of how Airmen achieve synergistic results and desired effects with their operational capabilities. It is a time when an Airman employs military capabilities, understands the operational and strategic arts, and has a thorough understanding of unit, Air Force, joint, and coalition capabilities. Development at the strategic vision level includes an enterprise perspective with a thorough understanding of the structure and relationships needed to accomplish strategic objectives. The strategic vision level focuses on the effects an Airman can have across the Air Force and on the Department of Defense.

2019 AFH-1

7.2. Continuum of Learning Institutional development generally results in leadership, management, and warrior ethos proficiency. Occupational development generally results in technical skill proficiency. The force development construct is a framework that links developmental needs with institutional competencies through the continuum of learning. The continuum of learning, along with the defined competencies, are aligned to ensure Airmen are qualified and ready to meet the challenges of current and future operating environments. The continuum of learning is a career-long process of development where challenging experiences are combined with education and training through a common taxonomy to produce Airmen who possess the tactical expertise, operational competence, and strategic vision to lead and execute the full-spectrum of Air Force missions.

The three distinct levels associated with leadership skills are: tactical expertise, operational competence, and strategic vision. These levels are recognized with varying emphasis across the institutional competencies. As Airmen progress from tactical expertise to strategic vision leadership levels, emphasis on the use of institutional competencies shifts to a broader focus. The nature and scope of leadership as well as preferred leadership methods differ based on the level of leadership and responsibilities.

Tactical Expertise. Development at the tactical expertise level includes a general understanding of team leadership and an appreciation for organization leadership. It is a time to master core duty skills, gain experience in applying those skills, and begin acquiring knowledge and experience essential for demonstrating effective, ethical leadership. Airmen at the tactical expertise level learn to become the Air Force's primary technicians and specialists, assimilate into the Air Force culture, and adopt the Air Force core values. The tactical expertise level is a time for honing followership abilities, motivating subordinates, and influencing peers to accomplish the mission while developing a warrior ethos and exercising communication skills as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Operational Competence. Development at the operational competence leadership level includes developing a broader understanding of the Air Force perspective and the integration of diverse people and capabilities in operational execution. It is a time to transition from specialists to leaders with an understanding of themselves as leaders and followers, while applying an understanding of organizational and team dynamics. It is a time to lead teams by developing and inspiring others, taking care of people, and taking advantage of diversity. It is a time to foster collaborative relationships through building teams and coalitions, especially within large organizations, and negotiating with others, often external to the organization. The majority of enlisted Airmen operate at the tactical expertise and operational competence levels.

Strategic Vision. Development at the strategic vision level includes combining highly developed personal and people/team institutional competencies, applying broad organizational competencies, and leading and directing exceptionally complex and multi-tiered organizations. It is a time to develop a deep understanding of how Airmen achieve synergistic results and desired effects with their operational capabilities. It is a time when an Airman employs military capabilities, understands the operational and strategic arts, and has a thorough understanding of unit, Air Force, joint, and coalition capabilities. Development at the strategic vision level includes an enterprise perspective with a thorough understanding of the structure and relationships needed to accomplish strategic objectives. The strategic vision level focuses on the effects an Airman can have across the Air Force and on the Department of Defense.

2021 E6 Study Guide

6.3. Core Competencies

Core competencies are about big picture concepts that the Air Force does, or is expected to do or know, all of the time. Being competent means that a person or organization has the necessary abilities or qualities to perform or function successfully. Core competencies are a key set of abilities or qualities at the heart of the organization's reason for being. For the Air Force, core competencies are those special abilities and qualities we collectively possess that enable us to function successfully and create airpower effects. Some core competencies are unique to the Air Force and distinguish us from our sister services, while other core competencies are aligned across the branches of service.

Occupational Competencies. Occupational competencies are required of Airmen within a specific workforce category or specialty. Occupational competencies describe technical/functional knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics needed to perform that function's mission successfully. Refer to AFH 36-2647, Competency Modeling, for additional details.

Foundational Competencies. Foundational competencies prepare Airmen to operate successfully across the widest array of Air Force tasks and requirements, and to adapt in a constantly changing operational environment. They are broadly applicable across (enlisted, officer, and civilian) Air Force members, spanning all occupations, functions, and organizational levels, and form the framework for force development in the Air Force. Foundational competencies are observable, measurable patterns of knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics needed to perform successfully across an Air Force career. The Foundational competencies are enduring and encompass attributes the Air Force believes are critical to mission success. The Foundational Competencies are grouped into four major categories: Developing Self, Developing Others, Developing Ideas, and Developing Organizations. Each of these competency categories is addressed in subsequent chapters of AFH 1.

2019 AFH-1

6.2. Core Competencies

Core competencies are about big picture concepts that the Air Force does, or is expected to do or know, all of the time. Being competent means that a person or organization has the necessary abilities or qualities to perform or function successfully. Core competencies are a key set of abilities or qualities at the heart of the organization's reason for being. For the Air Force, core competencies are those special abilities and qualities we collectively possess that enable us to function successfully and create airpower effects. Some core competencies are unique to the Air Force and distinguish us from our sister services, while other core competencies are aligned across the branches of service.

Occupational Competencies. Occupational competencies are required of all Airmen within a specific workforce category or specialty. Occupational competencies describe technical/functional skills, knowledge, abilities, behaviors, and other characteristics needed to perform that function's mission successfully.

Institutional Competencies. Institutional competencies prepare Airmen to operate successfully across the widest array of Air Force tasks and requirements, and to adapt in a constantly changing operational environment. They are broadly applicable and span all occupations, functions, and organizational levels, placing institutional responsibilities into a context of how individuals should be developed and form the framework for force development in the Air Force. Institutional competencies are observable, measurable patterns of knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors needed to perform institutional or occupational functions. The institutional competencies are enduring and encompass leadership attributes the Air Force believes are critical to mission success.


Section 6B. Enlisted Force Structure (for promotion to E-6 only)

In paragraph 6.5., the statement requiring ALS before becoming a first line supervisor was removed.

2021 E6 Study Guide

6.4. Enlisted Force Structure Framework

To best leverage our resources we must have a consistent, well-defined set of expectations, standards, and growth opportunities for all Airmen, regardless of rank or specialty. The enlisted force structure fulfills a compelling need for a deliberate and common approach to force development, career progression, increased supervisory, and leadership responsibilities. The enlisted force structure provides the framework to best meet mission requirements while developing foundational and occupational competencies. It is comprised of three distinct and separate tiers, each correlating to increased levels of education, training, and experience, which build increasing levels of proficiency, leadership, and managerial responsibilities. Responsibilities of enlisted tiers are outlined in detail in AFH 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure, Chapter 4.

2019 AFH-1

7.3. Enlisted Force Structure Framework

To best leverage our resources we must have a consistent, well-defined set of expectations, standards, and growth opportunities for all Airmen, regardless of rank or specialty. The enlisted force structure fulfills a compelling need for a deliberate and common approach to force development, career progression, increased supervisory, and leadership responsibilities. The enlisted force structure provides the framework to best meet mission requirements while developing institutional and occupational competencies. It is comprised of three distinct and separate tiers, each correlating to increased levels of education, training, and experience, which build increasing levels of proficiency, leadership, and managerial responsibilities. Responsibilities of enlisted tiers are outlined in detail in AFH 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure, Chapter 4.

2021 E6 Study Guide

6.5. Senior Airman. Senior Airmen commonly perform as skilled technicians and trainers. They begin developing supervisory and leadership skills through progressive responsibility, individual study, and mentoring. Senior Airmen strive to establish themselves as effective trainers through the maximum use of guidance and assistance from officer and enlisted leaders. Senior Airman must complete Airman Leadership School before assuming the grade of Staff Sergeant. The written abbreviation is "SrA" and the official term of address is "Senior Airman" or "Airman."

2019 AFH-1

7.4. Senior Airman. Senior Airmen commonly perform as skilled technicians and trainers. They begin developing supervisory and leadership skills through progressive responsibility, individual study, and mentoring. Senior Airmen strive to establish themselves as effective trainers through the maximum use of guidance and assistance from officer and enlisted leaders. They may serve as first-line supervisors upon completion of Airman Leadership School. The written abbreviation is "SrA" and the official term of address is "Senior Airman" or "Airman."


Section 6E. Training Responsibilities

In paragraph 6.11., the upgrade training references changed and one was added. And the requirements for award of the 7-level changed: can be Staff-Select now.

2021 E6 Study Guide

6.11. Upgrade Training

Upgrade training leads to award of higher skill levels and is designed to increase skills and abilities. AFSC upgrade training requirements for award of 3-, 5-, 7-, and 9-skill levels are outlined AFMAN 36-2100, Military Utilization and Classification, AFI 36-2670, Force Development, and the applicable CFETP.

2019 AFH-1

6.7. Upgrade Training

Upgrade training leads to award of higher skill levels and is designed to increase skills and abilities. AFSC upgrade training requirements for award of 3-, 5-, 7-, and 9-skill levels are outlined in AFI 36-2101, Classifying Military Personnel (Officer and Enlisted), and the applicable CFETP.

2021 E6 Study Guide

6.11. Upgrade Training

Craftsman. To be a craftsman, the member must be at least a Staff Sergeant Select; complete mandatory CDCs, if available, and complete applicable mandatory core tasks identified in the CFETP. Award of the 7-skill level also requires completion of a 7-skill level craftsman course (if career field requires it) and mandatory requirements listed in the AFECD. Additionally, the member must be recommended by the supervisor and approved by the commander. Individuals in retraining status (Training Status Code G) are subject to the same training requirements.

2019 AFH-1

6.7. Upgrade Training

Craftsman. To be a craftsman, the member must be at least a Staff Sergeant; complete mandatory CDCs, if available, and complete applicable mandatory core tasks identified in the CFETP. Award of the 7-skill level also requires completion of a 7-skill level craftsman course (if career field requires it) and mandatory requirements listed in the AFECD. Additionally, the member must be recommended by the supervisor and approved by the commander. Individuals in retraining status (Training Status Code G) are subject to the same training requirements.


Section 6F. Professional Military Education (for promotion to E-5 only)

The reference for Air Force PME programs and policies changed from AFI 36-2656, Developmental Education, to AFI 36-2670 Total Force Development.

2021 E5 Study Guide

6.20. Education Opportunities

Educational opportunities exist throughout an Airman's career which contribute to individual overall development. Professional military education (PME), enhances performance in each phaseof professional development and builds upon the foundation of leadership abilities developed during the earlier stages of an individual's career. PME compliments training, experience, and other educational programs to provide enlisted leaders a continuum of learning via progressive courses concentrated on developing leadership, Airmanship, and military professionalism. PME courses provide professional education to enlisted Airmen and ensure development of Air Force institutional competencies and sub-competencies vital to the knowledge and skills required for critical thinking, sound decision-making, and a strategic mindset. For additional information about Air Force PME programs and policies, refer to AFI 36-2670 Total Force Development.

2019 AFH-1

6.13. Education Opportunities

Educational opportunities exist throughout an Airman's career which contribute to individual overall development. Professional military education (PME), enhances performance in each phase of professional development and builds upon the foundation of leadership abilities developed during the earlier stages of an individual's career. PME compliments training, experience, and other educational programs to provide enlisted leaders a continuum of learning via progressive courses concentrated on developing leadership, Airmanship, and military professionalism. PME courses provide professional education to enlisted Airmen and ensure development of Air Force institutional competencies and subcompetencies vital to the knowledge and skills required for critical thinking, sound decision-making, and a strategic mindset. For additional information about Air Force PME programs and policies, refer to AFI 36-2656, Developmental Education.