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‘Civilian Airmen’ play vital role in mission
Col. Lynn Connett, left, 81st Training Group commander, welcomes George Arthur, 332nd Training Squadron, as a new civilian employee during a pinning ceremony Oct. 14 at the Bay Breeze Event Center. Mr. Arthur is one of 19 civilian employees from the 81st TRG who recently completed the NEO course. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adam Bond)
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'Civilian Airmen' play vital role in mission

Posted 10/20/2010   Updated 10/20/2010 Email story   Print story


by Susan Griggs
81st Training Wing Public Affairs

10/20/2010 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Air Force leaders have made development of about 143,000 "Civilian Airmen" a priority for the service. Civilian employees are seen as key to the total force and vital to performing the Air Force mission.

In a joint statement, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said, "As the Air Force moves forward, we find ourselves facing a dynamic set of new challenges. To meet these challenges we increasingly rely on our Air Force civilians as part of the total force team," said Secretary Donley and General Schwartz. "As the responsibilities of our civilian workforce have increased, so has the need for civilian force development."

"New Air Force civilian employees now have a required and consistent orientation program helping them get up to speed quickly," said Lt. Gen. Richard Newton III, deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel. "This 'bluing' training is a vital investment in introducing them to our Air Force's mission, heritage and core values."

Timothy Beyland, assistant deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel, underscored the importance of the Air Force acculturation process for civilians. "This training provides our new civilian employees the foundation to become successful members of the Air Force team," Mr. Beyland said. "As you become a member of the Air Force team, you need an understanding of who we are and what we do to contribute to the defense of our nation.

Civilian development poses challenges not faced by development of other parts of the force. Civilians enter the Air Force at various grades and skill levels and have a wide range of experiences. Investing in effective onboarding helps new employees get up to speed quickly, equips them with the information they need to excel at their jobs and creates a sense of commitment to the organization.

So nearly 15 months ago, a new employee orientation course became an integral part of launching Air Forcecivilian careers. The policy put in place requires all new permanent, term and Student Career Experience Program employees to complete the NEO course within 90 days of assignment. Although Air Force Instruction 36-401 mandates the NEO course only for civilian employees, any civilian, military member or contractor may also take it.

The web-based training provides civilians with insight into the Air Force culture and mission through seven online modules -- Air Force heritage , core competencies, customs and courtesies, force development, health, safety and security, personnel administration and core values. The course ensures all Air Force civilians begin their careers with the same valuable and consistent information regardless of their position or location.

Graduates receive the Air Force Civilian Pin to symbolize the value they bring to the mission and the contributions they make to the enterprise. Seasoned Air Force civilians may also take the NEO course and earn the pin by completing all seven modules.

Renee Johnson and Anthony Fragello were among the 19 new civilian employees in the 81st Training Group who received their pins Oct. 14 from Col. Lynn Connett, 81st TRG commander.

Ms. Johnson, a secretary in the 332nd Training Squadron, is new to the Air Force, but not new to military life. She served 20 years on active duty in the Navy before coming to work at Keesler July 19. "Although the goal of all the branches of service are ultimately the same, the NEO courses helped me to understand Air Force specifics," she pointed out. "This has allowed me to appreciate and renew the respect I already had for the Air Force. I thought the Navy had a lot of acronyms but the Air Force has even more -- the difference is the Air Force uses thesame acronym for several different meanings. Hopefully, it won't take me 20 years to learn them!"

Mr. Fragello began his job as an instructor in the 338th TRS cyber transport course Aug. 2.

Since he's an Air Force retiree, he was already familiar with working in a military environment, but he said, "It showed me the civilian side of the Air Force." New employees receive a one-hour orientation at the Sablich Center and sign a memo notifying them of the requirement to complete NEO within 90 days. The course is accessed through AF Knowledge Now with a common access card at

If you are new to AFKN, you'll need an AFKN account to register for the modules at

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