As we enter cold and flu season, Airmen and Guardians are encouraged to get their COVID-19 vaccination booster as soon as possible.
The virus continues to pose a risk to the health and welfare of service members, civilian employees and families.
Airmen and Guardians who receive the COVID-19 Bivalent Booster released in September are authorized a one-day special pass from their commander as long as the booster is administered by Dec. 1.
Department of the Air Force civilian employees who receive the current booster during the duty day through either Defense Department or private providers are authorized up to four hours administrative leave. Additionally, civilian employees may be granted up to two days of administrative leave to recover from any adverse reaction to the vaccination.
For service members, timing of the one-day pass will be consistent with mission needs, members must present documentation and commanders may award the special pass retroactively to those members who have already received a booster. The Office of Personnel Management authorizes federal civilian employees up to four hours of administrative leave to receive a vaccine booster shot, which is designed to cover “the time it takes to travel to the vaccination site, receive the vaccination dose, and return to work.”
If federal employees take less than four hours to receive their booster shot, they should be granted only that amount of time in administrative leave, and employees cannot receive leave or overtime if they get their booster shot outside of their normal working hours.
Federal employees are also authorized up to four hours of administrative leave to accompany their family members who are receiving any dose of a COVID-19 vaccination.
Federal employees should obtain advance approval from their supervisor before being permitted to use administrative leave for COVID-19 vaccination purposes.
COVID-19 vaccinations include the initial one or two shot series as well as any subsequent booster shots.
For the latest information on DAF COVID policies, statistics, news and resources, visit the DAF COVID-19 website Air Force Medicine link.
Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall visited Joint Base San Antonio to meet with leaders across Air Education and Training Command, Air Force Personnel Center, Air Force Installation Management Support Command and Sixteenth Air Force Nov. 4 and 5.
Joint Base San Antonio is not only the largest joint base but is also the “Gateway to the Air Force” and home to the Air Force’s Basic Military Training, which hosts graduations every week, generating the force the Air Force requires.
Kendall, as presiding official, celebrated the graduation of 570 of the Air Force’s newest Airmen and provided the oath of enlistment.
“You may notice that these Airmen are no longer the same people you knew seven-and-a-half weeks ago,” Kendall said. “I remember that transformation in my own son when he completed basic training shortly before deploying to Iraq. It was hard to believe that so much had changed, and changed for the better, in such a short time.”
Kendall, alongside AETC senior leaders, also had the opportunity to chat with graduates, family members and military training instructors about the roles each played in shaping the future of the Air Force.
From the first steps of active-duty service for enlisted Airmen to the professional military education and training of every Airman, Kendall was treated to a closer look at AETC’s wide-ranging mission set.
“Every day our Air Force leaders are challenging the force to pursue developments in training, technology and cultural norms, in order to ready the Department of Defense for high-end competition,” said Lt. Gen. Brian Robinson, commander of AETC. “At AETC, we clearly understand how vital education and training is to every Airman’s career. From continuous and iterative military training and education to our unique special warfare capabilities, we pride ourselves in keeping the heartbeat of innovation and advancement alive and well in every facet of the enterprise.”
The Department of the Air Force has developed several products designed to assist aircrew in making the most informed decisions about whether to fly during their pregnancy.
In April 2022, the DAF issued a clarification of policies pertaining to aircrew during pregnancy. Since then, the Department recognized the need to provide aircrew, commanders, and healthcare professionals greater awareness of and transparency around the process for submission and review of waivers to fly during pregnancy.
"At the end of the day, we need to balance operational readiness, safety, and our aircrew’s agency, and I'm proud of the progress we've made to that end," said Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones.
Aircrew who want to be considered for crewed flight duty must personally request to continue flying during their pregnancy. The AVAR will help guide discussions with healthcare providers and inform members of both known and potential, but unmeasured, risks to make an informed decision.
To return to flying duties after becoming pregnant, the service member must submit a waiver for review by their flight surgeon, obstetrical care provider, and commander, who must collaborate to determine whether to approve the waiver. All flights must meet approved flight profiles based on the commander's discretion and safety considerations.
DAF leadership’s intent is that aircrew are confident that the decision of whether to request to fly during pregnancy – or not – will have no impact on their military career. Aircrew who elect not to fly have other options to continue their career progression, such as maintaining currencies in the simulator, instructing academics, supervisor of flying, top-3, and many other training opportunities and duties.
"It was a team effort to develop these options for pregnant aircrew so they can continue carrying out the missions they are trained and ready to perform," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr.
As with any medical condition, the DAF will continue to review aircrew pregnancy policy and practices, including an ongoing collection of health and safety data. The service remains focused on identifying, analyzing, and appropriately mitigating flight safety hazards and exposures to facilitate the safe and successful accomplishment of the military mission. A continual review will also drive appropriate modifications to the AVAR to allow aircrew to make the most informed decision on whether to request the continuation of flight duties.
The 54th Airlift/Tanker Association Symposium recently brought together nearly 1,600 Air Force senior leaders, industry partners, partner nation representatives and mobility Airmen in a single forum in Denver.
During the event, which focused on the theme of “The Fight to Get to the Fight,” Gen. Mike Minihan, commander of Air Mobility Command, provided the “State of the Mobility Air Forces” and spoke of the need for mobility Airmen to prepare today to meet complex joint integration needs within the Indo-Pacific region.
Minihan said that requires a series of decisions that ensure the joint force can win now against a pacing competitor, including changes in current tactics, techniques and procedures; advancement in technologies; and the implementation of Agile Combat Employment and Multi-Capable Airmen concepts. He also challenged the Mobility Air Forces to adopt a Warrior Heart mindset to be prepared to face the realities of the lethality the MAF would deliver in a high-end combat scenario.
This sentiment was echoed by additional senior Department of Defense leaders throughout the conference.
“In the president’s recently released National Security Strategy, he made it clear that China and Russia are working overtime to undermine democracy and export a model of governance marked by repression at home and coercion abroad,” said Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, commander of U.S. Transportation Command during herremarks. “To meet national defense objectives, we must adopt the mentality that challenge is not synonymous to impossible and contested is not the same as impenetrable … This is the component of the Warrior Heart the AMC commander is so passionate about.”
Minihan treated the symposium as a three-day commander’s call during which he unveiled the Mobility Manifesto, a conceptual framework that focuses on how to organize, train and equip current and future Airmen and their tools to address the crisis of global authoritarian aggression. It demonstrates the adaptive nature mobility brings to the current fight and the critical maneuver force it will bring to the next, while highlighting the significant risk to the joint force of inaction.
“Without air mobility there is no meaningful maneuver,” the document said. “Without air mobility, there is no lethality. Without air mobility the joint force cannot project power and deliver deterrence.”
Two key seminars, Mobility Fight Club and Mobility Air Forces Next Generation Operations, provided a deeper look at a potential high-end fight and provided insight into how AMC will lead the way in tackling global and theater challenges in an enterprise-wide campaign to protect, connect and sustain meaningful maneuver for the joint force.
Minihan said AMC’s premiere exercise, Mobility Guardian 2023, set to occur in the Indo-Pacific region, will test the MAF enterprise’s concept of operations in a potential high-end fight.
Senior leaders throughout the Air Force stressed the success of the overall joint mission is not possible without first leveraging agile, resistant, survivable and sustainable forces of the MAF.
Additional keynote speakers included Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin, Commander of Air Education and Training Command Lt. Gen. Brian Robinson, Chief of the Air Force Reserve and Commander of Air Force Reserve Command Lt. Gen. John Healy, Director of the Air National Guard Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, and Chief Master Sgt. Brian Kruzelnick, AMC command chief.
The A/TA Symposium also included representation from the Air Force Special Operations Command, which delivered two seminars on AFSOC and AMC partnerships.
International representation came from military departments of the United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada, Netherlands, Italy, Australia and Romania.
Videos of the keynotes and select AMC seminars can be downloaded and viewed in full here.
Pledging to build on the Space Force’s achievements while also infusing the nascent service with new approaches, Gen. B. Chance Saltzman was officially installed Nov. 2 as Chief of Space Operations, the service’s highest-ranking military post, and only the second person to hold the position in the Space Force’s history.
In remarks during a solemn “Change of Responsibility” ceremony, in which he was elevated to the job from retiring CSO, Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, Saltzman promised to “work relentlessly to make the Space Force the combat-ready force that our nation needs” while acknowledging it “will not be an easy or short-lived task.”
Saltzman praised Raymond for doing “the heavy lifting to establish the Space Force,” for being a mentor, and for setting the Space Force on a path on which Saltzman can build. He also thanked his wife Jennifer, his two children, and a long list of other unnamed friends and colleagues who he said comprised the “bedrock of support” across his career.
“You have my commitment that I will work relentlessly to make the Space Force the combat-ready force that our nation needs, so get ready because I’m going to need your best as well,” he said.
In addition to Raymond, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, and Department of the Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall took part in the ceremony. Vice President Kamala Harris offered a letter praising Saltzman’s selection and Raymond’s service. As CSO, Saltzman will join Milley and as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In his remarks, Austin praised Raymond’s service and his work guiding the Space Force since its creation. He called Saltzman a worthy and capable successor. “There is no one better to take the helm than General Chance Saltzman. … For the past two years, he’s helped this new service get off the ground as a Deputy Chief of Space Operations. So, we’re lucky to have General Saltzman take the colors today.”
“The world is becoming increasingly dangerous, and preserving U.S. national security interests in space is growing harder every day,” he said. “Without the space capabilities you are designing, building, protecting, and operating, the Joint Force will not be capable of accomplishing its missions. A resilient, ready, and combat-credible Space Force is indispensable to deterrence today, tomorrow, and every day after that. In the worst case, if deterrence fails, the Space Force will be an indispensable component of our joint force at war.”
Since August 2020, Saltzman has served as Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Operations, Cyber, and Nuclear. In this role, Saltzman has overall responsibility for operations, intelligence, sustainment, cyber, and nuclear operations for the Space Force.
Commissioned in 1991 after graduating from Boston University, he has deep operational experience with missile and space systems as a Minuteman III launch officer and as a satellite operator for the National Reconnaissance Office. He also served as the first Chief of Combat Plans for the Joint Space Operations Center and, later, as Chief of Combat Operations.
Despite its small size compared to the other military services, the Space Force’s strategic importance is beyond dispute. Saltzman pledged to build on Raymond’s accomplishments. “The inspired work that General Raymond started has set us on a path,” Saltzman told the Senate Armed Services Committee Sept. 13 during his confirmation hearing. “It is a path towards advanced capabilities, modern, resilient architectures, and innovative approaches to meet our service missions.”
Saltzman inherits a Space Force as it transitions from the early planning and organizational phases required to form the first new military branch since 1947 to one that focuses more on the Department of the Air Force’s operational imperatives.
Milley used his remarks to highlight Raymond’s service, to thank him for his 38-year career and occasionally poke good-natured fun at him. Turning serious, however, Milley said Raymond “paved the way and is very much a pioneer” in the United States' journey into space.
Space is now considered a new and indisputable “warfighting domain,” which is why the United States – primarily through the Space Force and its allies, is focusing heavily on space and adapting to the new conditions. Militarily, space has never been more essential since “space power” provides a series of foundational capabilities upon which our joint forces depend.
It wasn’t long ago when space was an exclusive club, limited almost entirely to the United States and Russia (and before that, the Soviet Union). With only two “players” roaming the vast reaches of space, it was considered a challenging but peaceful environment.
There are now 72 countries actively operating in space. That number is growing as the cost of launching vehicles into space is falling to the point that more nations, along with many commercial enterprises, are jumping in. As congestion in space increases, so too are the intentions for being there. All of that raises the stakes for operating freely and without threat in space.
Below are current coronavirus disease 2019 statistics for Department of the Air Force personnel.
|DAF TOTAL STATS|
*These numbers include all cases reported since the last update Oct. 19.
**Military includes Active and Reserve components.
|DAF TOTAL VACCINATED|
|ACTIVE DUTY||GUARD||RESERVE||TOTAL FORCE|
|% Fully Vaccinated||99%||94.5%||95.9%||97.6%|
|DAF APPROVED EXEMPTIONS|
|ACTIVE DUTY||GUARD||RESERVE||TOTAL FORCE|
*Civilian statistics are unaccounted for.
**These numbers are subject to change.
The Department of the Air Force is complying with the court order to pause all disciplinary and adverse actions for those refusing the COVID-19 vaccine who submitted a timely religious accommodation request. This includes the Air Force Reserve Command processing Airmen to the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR).
Medical: Medical exemptions are determined individually by the member’s medical provider.
Administrative: Administrative exemptions are determined individually. For example, if a member obtained a commander-approved submission for separation or retirement by Nov. 1, they are administratively exempt.
Religious Accommodation: Religious accommodations are a subset of administrative exemptions and are determined by the MAJCOM/FLDCOM commanders. The DAF has 30 business days (active component in CONUS) to process requests. Members who receive a denial of the accommodation request have five calendar days from the denial to 1) begin a COVID-19 vaccination regimen, 2) submit an appeal to the final appeal authority, or 3) request to separate or retire. Appeals are determined by the DAF’s Surgeon General with inputs from the chaplain and staff judge advocate. Individuals do not have to get immunized as long as their request is in the process of being decided.
Members who continue refusing to obey a lawful order to receive the COVID-19 vaccine after their accommodation request has been denied or retirement/separation has not been approved will be subject to initiation of administrative discharge proceedings.
Personnel Numbers (approximates):