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Census helps define future joint officer

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (May 12, 2005) -- More than 7,000 Air Force officers in all ranks soon will be asked to complete a census that will be used to help decide what defines “joint.”

The secretary of defense is working on a Congressionally mandated review of joint management and tasked each service to identify officer positions that could be considered joint. This includes positions that would benefit from having an officer with previous joint experience, education or training; or those that would provide an officer with joint experience.

These positions were identified without regard to current law or policy constraints, and could include characteristics such as multinational and interagency interaction, as well as the traditional multiservice.

As a result of this initial process, Air Force officials identified about 7,100 positions. Together, all the services, defense and joint organizations submitted about 35,000.

Each of the services will receive specific passwords associated with the selected positions. For the Air Force, those passwords will then be distributed though command channels at each of the major commands to Airmen sitting in the identified billets. They will be required to complete a Web-based census that asks specific questions related to their job. The Air Force is allotted two weeks to complete the census.

"The Department of Defense is looking for the characteristics of joint billets," said Lt. Col. Jim Davis, classification and joint officer matters policy branch’s Air Force assignments chief. "We intend to have any officers in these pre-identified billets take the census in order to gain an idea of what competencies are associated with their billet. If the individual cannot be contacted, or the billet is empty, we expect the supervisor, or someone with knowledge of the position's responsibilities to complete the census. The census is accessible worldwide, however, so the incumbent should complete the survey if at all possible."

The census can be filled out on any Web-enabled computer and should take about 15 minutes to complete, Colonel Davis said. Department of Defense officials’ goal is 100-percent participation in the census to ensure the validity of the information gathered, he said.

"The Department of Defense has invested heavily in a time-sensitive contract to gather this important census data within a two-week period," Colonel Davis said. "There will be no extension to complete this census, analyze the results and make recommendations to Congress. It's crucial that those personnel selected to complete the census do so immediately."

Once the census is completed, the information gathered will be used for analysis and modeling to help determine the characteristics of future joint positions. With this future joint definition, the Air Force and other services can then predict future needs, and DOD can craft policy and legislation to better manage the joint force.