NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Air Force’s top enlisted leader recently rolled out the service’s first “Purple Book,” a primer on the joint force for rank-and-file airmen.

The 39-page booklet introduces airmen to high-level policy like the National Defense Strategy and describes the Air Force’s place in the bigger military picture. It’s one piece in a slew of changes aimed at better educating enlisted airmen and holding them to higher standards of performance.

“We have the first service and the only service who has a book to help us become a better joint-minded service member,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass said Sept. 21 at the annual Air and Space Forces Association conference here.

The Purple Book walks readers through the role of each combatant command; major military alliances like the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing coalition; Air Force roles and missions; each service’s rank structure and more.

“When the United States military operates as a cohesive team, its capabilities exceed those of individual components,” the book says. “All service members must do their part to educate and sharpen themselves, their fellow service members and the joint partners they work alongside.”

Air Force leaders have sought a larger role in the joint force for several years. In 2016, then-Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein pledged to improve how the service trains airmen to work with the other military branches.

“We have got to be a service that’s ready to stand up and lead [joint] campaigns,” he said.

Airmen receive two other manuals, the “Blue Book” of Air Force values and “Brown Book” on the enlisted force structure, at basic training and during professional military education courses. The Air Force released new versions of those books earlier this year.

“Updating these foundational guides equips airmen with the resources needed to become highly trained, educated and adaptable to the threats our competitors present,” Bass said in May.

Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.

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