The Air Force Structure
By SMSgt Aaron Rainer, 164th Airlift Wing Human Resource Advisor
/ Published April 03, 2011
164th Airlift Wing Memphis, TN --
The Air Force Structure
The Air Force Enlisted Force Structure is defined in AFI 36-2618 and establishes leadership and development levels and responsibilities. Additionally, this instruction includes the Air Force institutional competencies which serve as the common language for force development.
Despite the natural differences found across functional and operational lines, there is a compelling need for a deliberate and common approach to enlisted force development, career progression, and the assumption of increased supervisory and leadership responsibilities. The Air Force Structure and institutional competencies provides a consistent, well-defined set of expectations, standards, and opportunities for growth for all Airmen, regardless of specialty.
The purpose of the Air Force Enlisted Force Structure is to:
Provide an enlisted force structure that best meets mission requirements, developing institutional and occupational competencies.
Provide a common, stable career structure for all enlisted Airmen.
Provide all enlisted Airmen the opportunity for professional growth.
In addition, the Air Force Enlisted Force Structure defines:
The three tiers of the enlisted force structure.
· Tier 1: Airman Basic, Airman, Airman First Class, Senior Airman
· Tier 2: Staff Sergeant and Technical Sergeant
· Tier 3: Master Sergeant, Senior Master Sergeant, Chief Master Sergeant
The three levels of enlisted leadership and development.
· Tactical Expertise Level
· Operational Competence Level
· Strategic Vision Level
The roles, responsibilities, expectations, and official terms of address for enlisted rank.
· Tier 1 Junior Enlisted Airmen are responsible for accepting and executing all duties, instructions, responsibilities and lawful orders in a timely manner. Strive for and maintain the highest state of technical readiness, physical readiness, and mental readiness. Exhibiting professional behavior, military bearing, respect for authority, and high standards of dress and personal appearance at all times.
· Tier 2 NCO's are responsible for all Tier 1 Junior Enlisted Airmen responsibilities and to lead subordinates in mission accomplishment. Accept responsibility for assuming the role of leader if senior in grade. Adopt, internalize, and demonstrate the Air Force Core Values and the Airman's Creed. Support and explain leader's decisions. Serve as a role model for Airmen to emulate. Know and understand the Wingman concept.
· Tier 3 SNCO's should meet all NCO responsibilities and provide highly effective leadership, Translate leaders' direction into specific tasks and responsibilities that a team can understand and execute. Help leaders make informed decisions. Deliberately develop junior enlisted Airmen, NCOs, and fellow SNCOs into better followers, leaders, and supervisors, Ensure money, facilities, and other resources are utilized effectively and efficiently. Set a positive example for subordinates.
The Air Force Enlisted Structure provides the framework for Junior Enlisted Airmen, NCO's and SNCO's general duties, roles and responsibilities within the organization. It is extremely important that all Airmen become extremely familiar with AFI 36-2618 and its content. Review the instructions to determine where you fit in the organization and assess if you are meeting the responsibilities and requirements for the position you hold. AFI 36-2618 is also known as "The Little Brown Book" and can be found at:
Reference: AFI 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure, 27 Feb 2009
AFPAM36-2241, Professional Development Guide, 1 July 2009
SMSgt Aaron Rainer
Human Resource Advisor
164th Airlift Wing
Memphis, TN 38118