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Protocol, aide de camp special duties move

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Feb. 27, 2003) -- By May, the special-duty positions of protocol officer and aide de camp will become regular duty as part of the Air Force services career field.

Those officers holding these positions will gain a new Air Force specialty code -- 34M -- services April 30. The change is part of an Air Force move to integrate some special-duty positions with larger and somewhat similar career fields, said the chief of education and training for the services career field at the Pentagon.

"Particularly with protocol, you often work with the honor guard, with nonappropriated funding issues and with the club on a regular basis," Maj. Tony Millican said. "So many of the things protocol deals with already involve services. Also, for aides de camp, they regularly work with lodging, clubs and the base protocol offices in their efforts to support general officers."

The move provides the resources of an established career field to the hiring authorities of protocol and aide de camp positions, Millican said. After the integration, the services assignment manager at the Air Force Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, will become responsible for recommending officers to fill protocol and aide de camp positions, with many of those officers eventually coming from the services career field.

"By integrating protocol and aide de camp with services, we've provided a regular growth track for the officers who will become protocol officers or aides de camp," Millican said.

The services community recently created a training course for new protocol officers. The one-week course is held at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and covers, among other things, ceremonies, funding, meetings, conferences, flightline protocol and protocol in the deployed environment.

"This course, developed by protocol officers from Air Force major commands, is the first of its kind," Millican said. "Each command's chief of protocol provided substantial input to the course."

Another benefit of the integration is that other career fields will no longer routinely give up their own officers to fill protocol and aide de camp positions, Millican said.

"The way it has worked in the past is that other career fields have felt taxed by the obligation to fill protocol positions in addition to their own requirements," Millican said. "They had to take those officers 'out of hide,' so to speak. Those career fields will be relieved now that they won't routinely lose those officers to fill protocol positions."

Millican said there are 135 protocol positions and 31 aide de camp positions to fill Air Force-wide. In order to fill most of those positions, the services community will need to increase the size of its pool of officers.

"Long term, we anticipate that accessions and voluntary cross flows will provide services with enough officers to fill all of the positions," he said. "Before the integration, there were 293 services officer positions. After the integration there will be around 459."