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Does the personnel office ever say “Yes”

Tenth Air Force Golden Wings Logo

Tenth Air Force Golden Wings Logo

Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas --

Does the personnel office ever say “Yes”

Is A1 (Manpower and Personnel Directorate) really the Abominable “NO”man?

NO!!! Says the 10th Air Force manpower representative, and author of this article (with approval from the 10 AF Commander Support Staff and 10 AF Civilian Personnel).

Please read on….

Did you know “A1” has three main specialties: Military Personnel, Civilian Personnel, and Manpower?  Each area of responsibility has its own guidance.  Military Personnel rules of engagement are derived from the 36 series Air Force Instructions (AFIs) and Air Force Reserve Command Instructions (AFRCIs); Manpower from the 38 series; and Civilian Personnel guidance, believe it or not, is actually administrative LAW!

Let’s start with Civilian Personnel.  Have you ever heard someone from civilian personnel say, “according to the CFR” when explaining something?  The Code of Federal Regulations has 50 Titles. For example “5 CFR” is Title 5 of the CFRs.  For you History buffs, the CFR started in 1938 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. So, they have been around for a while, just sayin!  Oh and the CFR is law, not just a “Bill on Capitol Hill” (if you remember that television show).

Okay, back to 5CFR, otherwise known as, Administrative Personnel.  This law has 3 volumes and more than 75 chapters, each with several “parts.” Volume I, Chapter I outlines the Office of Personnel Management, OPM.  This chapter has three main sub-chapters: Civil Service Rules, Civil Service Regulations, and Regulations Governing Employees of OPM. 

Now, you might be saying, “What??!!” Yes.  It’s complicated, I know. But, stay with me.

Let’s review 5 CFR, Vol I, Part 575, sub-part A, B and C regarding Recruitment, Relocation, and Retention Incentives.  These sections spell out specific requirements.  If you, or your request, does not meet the criteria, civilian personnel (A1C) will have to say “No” because it’s the law!  When A1C says “No” they are doing their jobs to ensure laws are not broken. Usually, the no is followed up with a “here is what you need to do…..”

Okay, what about Military Personnel?  The 36 series AFIs and AFRCIs are your Force Support Squadron’s go-to guidance.  Just to be clear – AFIs are a form of general order and violation of the instructions by an Airman is subject to punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

If the FSS informs you that you cannot be an overage and an overgrade at the same time; or a fitness failure may result in a referral OPR/EPR, please, believe them!  They may appear to say “NO” but, they are actually providing protection from the AFIs and AFRCIs! 

The serious nature of A1 can make it seem like a drag, but in reality, “Manpower” is totally awesome??!!  Seriously, manpower plays a critical role in the entire corporate structure.  Your position is not there unless, through a process, a GROUP OF PEOPLE validate that it is required.  You may have heard it before:  “there must be a valid requirement,” or “that is not a valid requirement.”  So, what is A1 saying beside “NO?”

Simply put, Air Force Reserve Command has its own budget.  We must be able to defend our expenditures.  We must be able to explain (how/when/where/why) we are spending the taxpayer’s dollars.  Dramatic, you say?  Maybe, but, it is also a true story.  So, to be able to defend our budget, AFRC has manpower standards (Yes, Active Duty does too) by function, not by wing or squadron.  The group, I mentioned earlier, develops the standards.  The same group is made up of manpower folks from the Management Engineering Team (A1M); AFRC Functional Area Managers (FAM), and unit members. Yes, unit members are included in the group.

This group determines the work in a function to be measured (what you actually do) and creates a Process Oriented Description (POD).  The time it takes to perform these duties is measured across several bases to determine an average time.  These determinants help to build the formula….stay with me……the formula has X factors that are unique to each location (which is why different amounts of manpower are earned at different locations).  Yes, this is Algebra!  Just when you thought you wouldn’t have to use that math ever again (after high school)!  Most Manpower Standards show the formula and define the X factor/s.

OK, so, when Manpower appears to, or actually does, say “NO” when you ask for a new position or more positions it is because those additional positions cannot be validated (they do not help justify the budget) and were not earned during the application of the Manpower Standard.  Remember, it takes a of people, not all A1, who develop the POD which led to the standard which led to the manpower earned!

That all said, you must stay involved with the HQ Functionals.  They play a key role in all manpower decisions.  Not one MCR is processed without the FAM’s knowledge and or approval.  Not one position description (PD) is classified for Air Reserve Technicians without FAM input.  And finally, all UTCs (our actual “go to war” taskings) are regularly reviewed by the FAMs.

In conclusion, there are many inputs to the “NO” you get and the inputs are not necessarily specific to A1.  We are usually the messenger.  It’s a heavy burden we bear, but we try to handle it with care and empathy.

Hopefully this commentary has shed some light on the A1 process.  It is important to respect all AFRC functional areas (A1, A2, A3, A4, A6, A9, etc) and to know that the individuals trained in those areas are doing their job to the best of their ability.  We often hear: “there is a waiver for everything.”  Well, there is no waiver for law and if there is a waiver on the military side, the process is explained in the AFI or AFRCI. 

Please remember, there are usually several ways to achieve an objective.  Start thinking in terms of “How to get to Yes.”

Is A1 the Abominable NOMAN?  Not really, NO!  Maybe the Abominable KNOWMAN?  Ok, that might be a stretch!