JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. –
The term “multi-capable Airmen” is a common buzzword you may have heard in the Air Force. MCA is not only a concept, but now is a developing training program expanding across the Air Force. As Airmen continue to train for tomorrow’s conflicts, the value of MCA will continue to grow.
According to U.S. Air Force Capt. Benjamin Huffman, 94th Fighter Generation Squadron director of operations and MCA program lead, MCA will look different depending on the base. The 1st Fighter Wing’s MCA training program is currently around five months and is very hands-on.
“MCA is designed to train Airmen in varying career fields, on recovering, relaunching, refueling and reloading aircraft in contingency locations in the shortest amount of time possible with no outside support,” said Huffman. “Currently, we have 20 Airmen, each with different maintenance backgrounds, such as aerospace ground equipment, weapons, ammo, low observable and more, participating in the program.”
MCA Airmen are divided into teams and scheduled to regularly train outside of their AFSCs, while still being able to accomplish the mission within their daily jobs.
Airmen from the program will still be considered as a part of their original AFSC, however, the goal is to become qualified and leverage those MCA skills during deployments.
“We’re like the Swiss Army knife of the Air Force,” said Tech. Sgt. Louis Jackson, 192d Air National Guard munitions system craftsmen. “Typically, I work in Ammo, but if Langley Air Force Base were to deploy and there was, for example, an Agile Combat Employment mission, an MCA team would be able to be sent and we could accomplish the mission on fewer resources expanding the Air Force’s capabilities.”
Jackson emphasized, as other countries adapt, the United States has to adapt to maintain air superiority. The MCA program is developing Airmen to go a step beyond and accelerate change in the Air Force.
“MCA not only adds capability to the Air Force, but also survivability,” said Huffman. “It allows a team of five Airmen to fully operate with little support, or equipment, expanding the range of where our aircraft can fly and, in the end, expands our capability.”
Huffman stated, it’s not about setting a standard of needing less to accomplish more, but about developing Airmen to be the best they can be and improving our Air Force to thrive in any situation.
“We want to give credit where credit is due - they are going beyond their own team to push themselves to become the best,” said Huffman. “We are working towards identifying Airmen as MCA rather than just their AFSCs, because they not only are going to be the best at their job, but they're going to be trained in other Airmen’s jobs as well.”
Huffman mentioned that the MCA program is being continually improved and will likely expand to include other AFSCs here at JBLE-Langley. He is excited to see the Airmen graduate from their training and operate in action.
“MCA revived my spark and reminded me of why I joined the Air Force,” said Jackson. “MCA gave me the opportunity to see what other AFSCs do on a regular basis and be able to bring those fresh perspectives into my work. It is one thing to hear about accelerating change and it’s another thing to be a part of it. It opened my eyes and gave me a fresh perspective as someone in Ammo- that we are a part of something greater.”