Off the Critical List

Cyber and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance specialists are not on the Air Force Reserve’s “critical specialties” list this year, principally because “our recruiters have done an awesome job” at finding people for those slots, Air Force Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. J.J. Jackson told reporters Tuesday. The “ISR enterprise is manned at 80 percent,” he said, due to the “great work” of the personnel shops, so cyber and ISR aren’t considered terribly shorthanded. “We don’t need them, as a priority … as much as we need maintainers and loadmasters, and combat systems operators, and some other” Air Force Specialty Codes, he said. “It’s an annual list,” he noted, and the mix of areas needing bonuses or special recruiting drives will shift from year to year. Air Force Reserve is looking to get ahead of the KC-46 maintainer requirement and is starting to recruit into that specialty in the coming year, but the biggest operational need is for F-35 maintainers. He said AFRES is working hard to retain fighter maintenance people leaving the force. About 58 percent of AFRES maintainers going to Hill AFB, Utah, to bring on the first operational unit are experienced, he said. The rest will be “new accessions.” Avionics maintenance “is where the biggest shortfalls are,” he added.