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Memo serving as officer career guide

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (March 07, 2003) -- A recent memorandum from the secretary of the Air Force regarding the selection process for general officers could very well serve as a guide to all officers -- regardless of rank -- as they chart out their careers.

The memorandum is one of a series of initiatives designed to help explain how officials intend to incorporate deliberate force development throughout the Air Force.

In the memorandum, Dr. James G. Roche discussed the instructions he gives to promotion boards before they consider an individual for promotion to brigadier or major general. He asked all Air Force officers to consider those requirements set out in the instructions.

"As I was reviewing the instructions for a recent general officers board, it occurred to me that you might be interested in what I was telling a board about the kind of officers that should become generals," the secretary said in the memorandum. "I encourage you to discuss this with your mentors."

Among the qualities the secretary looks for are a proven ability to be proactive rather than reactive, a breadth of career experiences and an understanding of the expeditionary air and space force concept.

In addition, he said, general officer selectees are those known for making things happen.

"The Air Force needs officers who can conceptualize, chart strategies and formulate policies, as opposed to merely organizing solutions to problems," Roche said. "The board should find those officers who provided the direction and force that shaped outcomes rather than reacted successfully to a series of events."

The secretary also stressed the need for officers to possess a variety of backgrounds, strengths and levels of operational and technical expertise. Such a background includes experience in administrative, support and technical positions.

For line officers, joint-duty experience is a significant factor. And where appropriate, he explained, command experience remained an important consideration. He stressed that the Air Force focus on force development will help meet requirements for these leaders and better meet the developmental needs.

"For those eligible to command, demonstrated performance as a commander is, and will continue to be, a key factor in selection for advancement," Roche said.

Finally, the secretary identified a keen understanding of and commitment to the expeditionary air and space force concept as an important trait to have. In particular, he said, officers vying for general must be able to explain the value of air and space capabilities, must have an understanding of the Air Force's contribution to overall national security and must understand each Air Force individual's contribution to the overall EAF concept.

"An understanding of the full spectrum of expeditionary air and space force and air and space operation is a cornerstone for selection to general officer grade ... the Air Force needs general officers that can lead the Air Force through the evolutionary change as an air and space force," the secretary said. "To support this effort, the Air Force needs leaders who ... don't just do, but who also can conceptualize what needs to be done."

Those potential leaders can be identified in part as officers who are comfortable with change, who are creative and who are flexible, Roche added.

"Above all, promotion boards look for officers with a commitment to air and space power and the Air Force as an institution, rather than a particular organization or community within it."