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What Is the Required Level of Noncontingency Temporary Duty for Air Force Personnel?

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Following the Gulf War, the U.S. Air Force placed a 120-day-per-year ceiling on temporary duty (TDY) both for contingency operations and for non-contingency-related activities, including training courses and exercises. Questions have arisen, however, regarding the extent to which these competing demands for TDY may be adversely affecting Air Force training activities. Accordingly, the authors seek to ascertain the magnitude of noncontingency TDY that the Air Force needs to maintain requisite levels of training and readiness. Toward this end, they examined the accuracy of current Air Force TDY data, as captured in the Air Force Personnel Center’s TDY History File, with data on TDY that individuals have actually performed. They also interviewed more than 40 squadron commanders, to determine whether contingency operations had indeed taken a toll on non-contingency-related efforts. The authors conclude that widespread errors do exist in the recording of TDY, with many such errors attributable to miscategorizations or to missing data. Interviews further revealed that more than half of all squadron commanders felt that noncontingency TDY levels were in fact too low. On the basis of these findings, the authors recommend that the Air Force’s TDY tracking system be improved and that the burden of TDY for contingency operations be reduced.