Air Force Generals: Engineers?

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by Academy, Jul 18, 2014.

  1. Academy

    Academy New Member

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    Not sure if this is the right forum, so my bad if I am posting this wrong.

    I have been doing lots of research about the Air Force and possible careers in it, and I am interested to know who usually becomes a General in the Air Force.

    Other than Pilots (which I know are the huge majority), what types of people get to the General Officer ranks? And why are Pilots so often chosen?

    Is is possible for an engineer, like a Developmental Engineer to become a General? I really like the career field description on the Air Force website, and any information about what it's like to be one would be great too.

    I kind of have this ambition where I would be a developmental engineer and develop new technologies for the air force, and work up my way to being a leader in the Air Force Research Laboratory or maybe even the Air Force Materiel Command. Does this sound possible at all without being a pilot?

    I am not ruling being a pilot out either; I just feel that I would be more beneficial to the Air Force by creating new technology and solving problems. In other words, creating the tools for the pilots to use.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated, thanks
     
  2. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    Those officers that are lucky enough to make it through each retention board
     
  3. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    If you want to create the tools for pilots, than you need to go and work for Lockheed. :shake: it would also help that you are a pilot. Bullet works as an AF GS at the Pentagon on the 35. One big reason why he got the job was because he flew fighters for 20 years and understands what works in a cockpit from actual fighter hours flying. The Pentagon is where the decision is made on what tools go in or don't go in. In 2 weeks he will be back at Ft. Worth checking out the 35 progression.

    The reason why pilots make General more often than other AFSCs is because it is called the AIR Force. Although people jokingly call it the Chair Force. As Jcleppe stated they made it through the retention boards. You can take a flier out of an airframe and make them an Intel or Maintenance officer with very little transition issue for training. You can't do the reverse without @2 years of training, thus a huge transition issue.Thus, from a retention perspective if they have to have backfill they will cut the non-rated and backfill with rated.
    ~~~~ They did this in the 90s, and with the predicted SERB for O5/6 why keep the non-rated when the rated get 6 figure bonuses up until their 20 year marker. Fiscally from a return on investment that would be a bad front load.
     
  4. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Anything is possible, but why would Air Force need a general that specializes in Developmental Engineering? Who becomes a general is not about how long you served, expertise in a specialty (there are exceptions), you deserve it, and etc. I like to think that a colonel becomes a general based his or her leadership abilities, not because he or she is the best developmental engineer.
     
  5. USAFretired1996

    USAFretired1996 Member

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  6. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Gen. Wolfenbarger was a fast track burner...If you look at her promotions she had to be two below for O5, promoted at 13 years in! It also appears she was two below for O6 making it at 18. Even in the flying world that is incredibly rare.

    That being said for the OPs perspective neither were creating tools for pilots. She started off as acquisitions at Eglin and he started as a maintainer at Nellis. This is why I was stating if it is creating the tools you want than that is going to come from the Lockheed side.

    I would also say that the key to getting to that level is always planning your career two steps ahead from a promotion perspective when selecting assignments. You will need to go to PME and that means timing it right.
     
  7. USAFretired1996

    USAFretired1996 Member

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    Pima, I don't disagree. I was just answering his specific question regarding the possibilities of being non-rated and being a GO at AFMC. Maybe I should have quoted it in my response.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2014
  8. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Problem with forums is you can't discern intonation, and I wasn't disagreeing with you either. I was stating admiration for Wolfenbarger. I would love to know more about her career. My guess is her MIT stint got her on the fast track which she parlayed into a high vis job next.I have only met one other person that shot through that quickly. Lt. Gen. John Hesterman (83 AFA). He was rated though.

    It happens, but it is insanely rare. Again, that was one of my points in my last post regarding you have to plan your career out not one assignment at a time, it is more of parlaying that one assignment into the next assignment. Many members don't want that crap assignment, but sometimes it is the crap assignment that gets you on the fast track.
    ~ Let's be honest they all have that dreaded Puzzle Palace on their resumes. Hesterman has that and Kunsan :eek:
     
  9. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Some perspective:

    First, slightly less than 1% (that's right 1%!) of the 2nd Lts commissioning every year will get to the rank of Brig General. The numbers are even harder against you for that second or third star. 4th Star? Buy a lottery ticket, you'll have similar odds.

    So, that being said, what you SHOULD be asking yourself is -- Will I have a chance to make Full Bird Colonel? That means (for the VAST majority; there are a few exceptions like Pima mentioned in Gen Wolfenbarger's) stayin gpast 20 years to somewhere around 25-ish years in. O-6 is perhaps the pinnacle of military leadership most have a realistic shot of achieving, and the positions are available for O-6s in EVERY career field.

    Now, why are most of the AF Generals pilots? Well, what is the PRIMARY MISSION of the Air Force? To provide air power to the Nation. The guys (and gals) who actually do this in the early part of their careers, and have the intimate knowledge of what it takes to provide this at the tactical, operational, and strategic level, usually are the ones we are letting into the GO ranks. No offense to the Engineer, but their perceived lack of "credibility" as a leader experieinced in our primary mission is a strike against them for the highest ranks.

    That being said, as a few have pointed out, THERE ARE a few who proceed through the ranks in the engineering, test, and acquisition world to the rank of General. A few. Again, worry about making O-6 and buy a lottery ticket if you want to go higher than that.

    Bullet
     
  10. MedB

    MedB Parent

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    With all due respect to the posters above....

    No, what you should be asking yourself is "What is it I am passionate about and how can I serve my country and those that count on me using that passion".

    A career is afterall just that. Do what you love and find a way to serve others the best you can while doing it and the rest will work iself out. :smile:
     
  11. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Very wise advice MedB.

    As a spouse and now a Mom of an AF officer, I will say both of the men in my life that served or are serving always jokingly would say I can't believe I get paid to do something I love this much. That included crap assignments....let's be honest nobody volunteers to go to Del Rio over Vance or Columbus.

    There were people we knew in the AF that were absolutely miserable because they didn't like their job....they only became more miserable because people tend to not hang with someone that has nothing positive to say and that starts the whole negative cycle even more....blaming the AF and not realizing they had a big hand in their career path decisions too.
     

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