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FIP provides new career path for missileers

Steps to implement the “3+3” operations tour construct for the missile combat crew officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. have begun to meet the Nov. 1, 2014, implementation date. It will affect all officers in the nuclear and missile operations (13N) career field. (U.S. Air Force photo/John Turner)

Steps to implement the “3+3” operations tour construct for the missile combat crew officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. have begun to meet the Nov. 1, 2014, implementation date. It will affect all officers in the nuclear and missile operations (13N) career field. (U.S. Air Force photo/John Turner)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. (AFNS) -- Steps to implement the "3+3" operations tour construct for the missile combat crew officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana have begun to meet the Nov. 1, 2014, implementation date.

The new construct will affect all officers in the nuclear and missile operations (13N) career field.

Missileers in their first three-year assignment will focus on developing their weapon system proficiency. During their second three-year assignment, which will likely be at another ICBM base, missileers will apply their expertise to serve as an instructor, evaluator and/or flight commander and provide guidance and mentoring to others when performing alert.

"The first three years put focus on the missile field," said Lt. Col. Benjamin Dahlke, the 341st Operations Support Squadron director of operations. "They will focus on being a deputy crew commander for about 18 months and after that they'll be focused on being a good crew commander for another 18 months."

Leaders will use a phased approach to implement the "3+3" tour construct. For example, most 13N officers who arrived at Malmstrom AFB in the spring of 2011 will complete a four-year crew tour. Most 13N officers who arrived in the spring of 2012 will complete somewhere between a three to four-year tour and the people who arrived in the fall of 2013 and beyond, will likely have a three-year tour.

Previously, the missile crew tour was four-years and included some instructor, evaluator and/or flight commander duties. This model allowed for inexperienced deputy commanders to instruct or evaluate more senior, experienced officers, which is contrary to the Air Force's standard operations training model.

The advantage of having them wait 36 months is to be able to have truly experienced instructors and evaluators for standardization and evaluations, Dahlke said.

"The experience level will go up at every stage of an intercontinental ballistic missile crew member's career," said Lt. Col. Justin Mulkey, the 341st OSS commander. "They'll be able to focus on the mission and making themselves and their peers better."

The "3+3" tour construct is part of the force improvement program (FIP) initiated by Air Force Global Strike Command.

"The 3+3 crew tour is just a part of what we are doing," Mulkey said.

It's a part of bigger changes to improve how Malmstrom develops ICBM experts and leaders. This construct focuses on training and improving the crew force quality, the quality of the instruction and enhancing the nuclear enterprise, Mulkey added.

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