My News from USAFA Parent's Weekend

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Wishful, Sep 10, 2015.

  1. Wishful

    Wishful Parent

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2012
    Messages:
    339
    Likes Received:
    113

    Attended a short meeting with a parent’s group rep who attended USAFA parent’s association meeting hosted by Gen. Mitchell. Here is what was passed along:

    #1: RPA slots. This is the #1 mission that needs to be filled. (No surprise there) Anyone looking to “5 & dive” should consider this career field (As per our rep. I cannot say if this is the General’s opinion.) DD stated that unfilled slots from class of 2016 would be passed down to classes of 2017 & 2018.

    #2: A parent-driven sexual assault awareness program: Any parent interested in starting this would be supported by USAFA. Obviously there are privacy rules & other hurdles to cross, but the Academy is willing to assist within legal bounds.

    #3: Cyber: This field is rapidly expanding & any cadet who has “the special set of skills” to excel here should definitely consider it.

    My Thoughts:

    As to #1: Everyone has their own opinion about the RPA program and the use of AF pilots to perform this assignment. To me, the lifestyle along with the lack of time to further your education (due to the very demanding work schedule from what I have gathered) make this career field a non-starter for most who are in the Academy. I just don’t see RPA pilots “moving up” (the General’s phrase) to an airframe pilot. Some more research into the pro’s & cons of this assignment would have to be made by those interested before making the request to be assigned here.

    #2: I think one would have to live in the C Springs area for this to work. Don’t know if a social worker or another type (LE, health-care, etc.) of background would be necessary for this to work.

    #3: Seems like an excellent career field, but don’t expect to be assigned outside the continental US; you are too valuable. I have met cadets who are going into this and they are insanely smart; I will be sleeping easier knowing they’re on this extremely important job.

    PS: on a lighter note: Football team’s offense & special teams looked good. However, the defense let expected plays succeed. Sideline throws & screen passes repeatedly moved the chains when our team should’ve been getting off the field. Hopefully, this will be cleaned-up for the next game.
     
  2. buffalo

    buffalo USAFA 2013

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2008
    Messages:
    780
    Likes Received:
    60
    IIRC there's a 6 year ADSC attached with the RPA career field, so you're stuck for a more than the minimum commitment. And I'd suspect it's like UPT where it's 6 years after finishing training, which would likely result in at least 7 years of service.
     
  3. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2007
    Messages:
    2,577
    Likes Received:
    799
    Isn't there a big bonus attached to RPAs now?
     
  4. MombaBomba

    MombaBomba Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2014
    Messages:
    425
    Likes Received:
    218
    Perhaps they should offer a "2 years to get your graduate degree program" before serving in RPAs if study time is so limited. These cadets aren't stupid. They know if they wish to be promoted past Captain, they have to get their graduate degree within a specified period of time. If the demands of RPAs are such that they are unable to get it done, then RPAs are where someone goes if he doesn't care if his potential promotion is limited or his career path set back. At least that is the message I am getting from all I have read about RPAs.
     
  5. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,795
    Likes Received:
    930
    Totally disagree with your train of thought Momba of the wait until they have a graduate degree for many reasons.

    1. It is really very uncommon for newly commission to go to grad school directly as their 1st assignment.
    ~ The majority will do what Stealth's DS, my DH did and now my DS...via the base education system once ADAF. Fencers DS twins also go in that pile. Additionally, unless things have changed Grad school is masked until the O5 board. Historically, it does play into the equation for O4 in residence PME.

    2. Our very good friend is a DO at Creech. He is an O5. Just like any other career path, there will be those that shine, and those that don't.
    ~ RPAs do a lot of tactical missions, and they are part of our success in the AIR. Their Bullet points on their OPR regarding missions may be more impressive than their heavy pilot peer.
    ~~ No flaming please.

    3. The AF doesn't throw bonuses around just for the fun of it. They know the RPA world is going to become even more important within the years to come. If you are talking promotions, and do the math, they are going to need them at a high rate in the next decade.
    ~ Caveat: The AF is now fighting retention on two fronts. Commercial airlines are hiring at an extreme pace now, so they are losing both RPA and manned pilots at a rate they cannot replace fast enough.

    4. They can't wait for them to do 2 years, because right now they are losing 20% per year compared to how fast they can replace them. In 2012 rated were either sent to UPT or RPA. They entered knowing that they would not fly an RPA upon winging. RPA were sent to San Antonio for school, not to any UPT base. As of last month, they started dropping RPAs again out of UPT, because they are losing so many.
    This will be ongoing through FY16. 2 RPAs for every base, except ENJJPT, per class. Or @100 more RPA pilots on top of what San Antonio pumps out annually.

    Now for me here is the big question that I have yet to see answered regarding the new system (UPT dropping RPAs):
    1. RPA requires an ADSO of 6 years upon winging. UPT is 10.
    ~ What is the ADSO for the UPT grad that gets RPA?
    ~~ 6 years or 10?
    2. What happens if the AF doesn't keep that promise of 1 tour RPA, and than manned? Do they now change it to the 6 year committment? If not can you imagine the poor morale within the RPA community for those that are now stuck to 10 because they went UPT while the RPA school grad can bolt at 6?
    ~ Or did they change their ADSO upon winging out of UPT? ADSO will change if they xtrain to manned airframes.

    In a way I think an RPA is a sweet choice.
    1. Chances of homesteading is much higher than manned airframes.
    ~ Creech is not a bad deal when you compare it to Abilene, Pope, Mt. Home, Eilson, etc.! Also way better than being a FAIP at Laughlin!
    2. Our world is changing, and the RPA field is very small.
    ~ DOD and Defense contractors know that they are here to stay and will grow in years to come. Companies, like Rand, Booz Allan, Raytheon, SAIC, L3 Comm, will search out these individuals for their military experience. That is also before we even discuss simulator instructors, or the companies that build them.

    My opinion why the low retention rate exists is tied to three things:
    1. They are undermanned and burnt out!
    ~ Not replacing fast enough
    2. No respect
    3. This field is up and coming.
    ~How many stories have you read about personal drones lately? Let's see there was the US OPEN drone, a BBall game drone, drones in the path of airlines. Amazon using drones to deliver packages.
    ~~ Just imagine those RPA pilots that entered in 2012, and can walk in 18/19. They know the FAA regs. Can you see Amazon or the FAA not hiring them? I can't! I can see Amazon hiring them in a heartbeat for pure insurance purposes. I can see Booz Allen hiring them from a pure military experience regarding DOD contracts.
     
  6. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,963
    Likes Received:
    872
    Promotions are a little more complicated. In the earlier part of a career, promotions are affected by a lot of things; including your AFSC, available slots, etc. So if you're mainly competing for promotion against other RPA career field, then you aren't being penalized because of your job. Everyone in that job is in the exact same boat. As time goes on, your promotions can extend beyond your AFSC. E.g. becoming a group commander, wing king, etc.

    Point is; the air force doesn't need to entice someone with a 2 year grad program to get them into the career field. They can do it with a number of normal methods like bonuses, base stability, etc. What the air force really needs to look at is down the road. How separate of an AFSC do they want this to be? Open to anyone? Rated vs unrated? Career progression beyond the AFSC.

    But this isn't the first afsc or first time the air force has had to make these decisions and look at a direction. They do it all the time. They'll do it again and I trust them. But a grad school slot, at least initially prior to entering the afsc, is not a real good idea. You actually set a person up to more easily decide to leave the military at the earliest possible time. But I could see offering a grad school slot later on. That is done now. Many officers apply to go to grad school full time. They could do something similar.
     
    Boozebin and NavyHoops like this.
  7. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2011
    Messages:
    3,081
    Likes Received:
    2,435
    Christcorp you beat me to the first part of your post. Most officers opting beyond their initial commitment will look for that full time grad school spot because its needed for career progression and its a nice 2 year break of school and home. I am sure big bonuses are/or will be coming to entice RPA pilots. The Navy has used this for Nuke power guys and Dept Head SWOs. Pilots across nearly all services have for most/some platforms have had bonuses to get folks to stay beyond. I would suspect when the commercial hiring starts to get really going these bonuses will increase or exist for those that previously didn't. New career fields always face challenges, the military seems to figure it out.
     
  8. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    12,795
    Likes Received:
    930
    This is the RPA now.
    http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/...rone-pilots-to-get-135k-re-up-bonus/30184499/

    18X pilots who are reaching the end of their initial six-year commitment can get the bonuses by agreeing to serve another five or nine years. They will get $15,000 a year, meaning they will get either $75,000 or $135,000, depending on how long they agree to stay. They can also choose to get 50 percent of their bonus as an upfront lump-sum payment.

    Read on..
    And the Air Force isn't producing enough drone pilots to fill those needs. In an email, Karns said the Air Force's current operations tempo requires it to produce about 300 active-duty pilots per year, but it is only turning out 190 each year.

    Now add this into the equation.
    The 80 undergraduate pilot training graduates directed into drone squadrons will serve one assignment tour — typically lasting three years — before being offered the opportunity to move to a manned aircraft

    If my math is correct they are still short by 10% every year for RPA from a straight out of school. 190 RPA (San Antonio). 80 UPT. Equals 270 coming in, but they need 300.

    This was where I went huh, what regarding the article?
    The highest-performing pilots will have the best shot of getting their pick of platforms, he said. But the Air Force will assign some pilots to drone duty to fill those slots.

    The Air Force now plans to only steer pilot graduates to drone duty for one year.

    Wait... didn't you say only a few paragraphs earlier...The 80 undergraduate pilot training graduates directed into drone squadrons will serve one assignment tour — typically lasting three years — before being offered the opportunity to move to a manned aircraft.

    Which is it? 1 year or 3?

    I bleed blue, but I can't figure out what they are saying
    ~ UPT grads that get RPA, are they on the hook for commitment like the manned pilots?
    ~ Is it one year or one tour?
     
  9. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2007
    Messages:
    2,577
    Likes Received:
    799
    Well. This is interesting.

    I can imagine, and imagine only, my sons saying "God, please let me wing. God, please let me wing." and then "God, no E8s! Please!" But with the thought of this RPA over their heads, and the insecurity of 6 years, 10 years, 1 year, 3 years.... oh my. Somebody wasn't truly paying much attention.
     
  10. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,963
    Likes Received:
    872
    Do you need to major and get a degree in X-Box?
     
    fencersmother likes this.
  11. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2007
    Messages:
    2,577
    Likes Received:
    799
    PlayStation10, by the time current High School students get there.
     
  12. buffalo

    buffalo USAFA 2013

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2008
    Messages:
    780
    Likes Received:
    60
    Quick clarification: per current CSAF guidance, having a master's is not a requirement until O-6. Of course next CSAF might swing the education requirement back to the other end of the spectrum, so it's still probably to get started sooner rather than later in one's career.

    Pima, I suspect the AF Times article made an error at the end when it said one year. One tour is the plan. And at the end of the day, while far from ideal, it's not the end of the world for those that the UPT direct to RPA assignment. As we know, the AF did honor it's promise to those that got RPAs during the last round and gave them a manned aircraft follow on. My flying partner for PIQ at Altus was one of those guys. Since the AF is saying this round of UPT directs will also only have one RPA tour, I'd say there's at least a reasonable chance the AF will keep it's word again. In contrast, the AF is also nonvoling pilots currently in manned airframes to fill the RPA requirement. For these folks, it's very difficult to return to a manned airframe.

    It will be be interesting to see what they do with the 10-year vs. 6-year ASDC. If the UPT-direct agreed to stay in RPAs and recalled from 11x to 18x, it would be a raw deal to keep the 10-year ASDC.

    [edit] Quick note regarding locations. While I do agree there are worse bases than Creech, note that AFSOC RPA's are operated out of Cannon. Good luck finding many folks who want to settle down in Clovis, NM. If RPAs were moved to the truly desirable bases, I bet that would somewhat help morale, and perhaps give pilots more of a reason to stay.
     
  13. Wishful

    Wishful Parent

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2012
    Messages:
    339
    Likes Received:
    113
    How difficult would it be to move an RPA base? Are they all in trailers or just the one we saw in the movie?
    Also, I was writing of continuing education on your own rather then the graduate program right out of USAFA. I was informed that you need to have at least a 3.7 GPA to be considered for that.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2015
  14. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,963
    Likes Received:
    872
    We were mentioning that there are other grad school opportunities for active duty officers beyond your time at the academy. Like years later. This could be used as an incentive later in the career to retain rpa personnel. The choice isn't limited to just doing it on your own.
     
  15. Wishful

    Wishful Parent

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2012
    Messages:
    339
    Likes Received:
    113
    OK Thank you.
     
  16. BlahuKahuna

    BlahuKahuna Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2011
    Messages:
    542
    Likes Received:
    167
    Nah, that's not strictly true. Someone from my squadron got picked up for grad school last year with a 3.3 GPA (although her majors GPA was a bit higher.)
     
  17. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2006
    Messages:
    1,661
    Likes Received:
    508
    It varies. My son was being pushed for grad school and he only had a 3.49.

    Stealth_81
     
  18. lsredmond

    lsredmond Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2011
    Messages:
    121
    Likes Received:
    11
    My daughter had a 3.5 and is currently in grad school at UF. They only gave her a year to complete so she has a heavy load

    Sent using the Service Academy Forums® mobile app
     
    Wishful likes this.
  19. Wishful

    Wishful Parent

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2012
    Messages:
    339
    Likes Received:
    113
    Thanks for the above posts.
     
  20. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Messages:
    2,295
    Likes Received:
    129
    Grad school:
    3.3 was usually the recommended minimum for eligibility in general. 3.8 was the min for the national scholarships like Rhodes, Marshall, Hertz, etc. Many departments that planned to bring people back to teach wanted >3.0 but usually required 3.3.
     

Share This Page