Airmen are gradually shifting how they prepare for deployment as part of the Air Force’s new “force generation” plan, the adoption of which may hit a key milestone in 2023.

In the coming year, the Air Force wants enough units moving through that four-step cycle — from resetting after a deployment, to basic training, to advanced training, to mission availability — to say it has created a sufficient foundation on which to grow that process.

Each phase is supposed to last six months, meaning units are supposed to have 18 months at home between six-month deployments. Some airmen, particularly those in the stretched-thin mobility field, have complained on social media that they’re still flying missions too often in the “reset” phase.

The Air Force hopes the plan, known as AFFORGEN, will be a welcome departure from the past two decades of nonstop deployments to the Middle East and Southwest Asia. That pace of operations has taken a toll on people and planes alike.

Expect the push for “multi-capable airmen,” whose broader skill sets allow units to do more with less, to continue throughout 2023. That approach is set to hit Air Force training as well, as the service spreads pre-deployment prep throughout the year and dumps its traditional “Beast Week” for a new test of airmen’s flexibility in combat.

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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