Airman’s Foundational Competencies: An Air Force Initiative

  • Published
  • By Jennifer Gonzalez

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO – RANDOLPH, Texas – In this episode of The Air Force Starts Here podcast, we explore the Airman’s Foundational Competencies.

The Air Force has identified 24 Airman’s foundational competencies for all Airmen, as part of a systematic competency-based approach to develop the force. 

“These foundational competencies can only be foundational if they apply to every single Airman and that's from E1 to O10 and from the most junior wage grade member to the most senior SES grade civilian,” said Col. Mark Coggins, competencies division chief. “They must apply to every Airman regardless of where they work, wherever an Airman finds themselves those foundational competencies are identified as relevant and significant.”

These foundational competencies are universally applicable to all Airmen and are categorized into four groups: Developing Self, Developing Others, Developing Ideas and Developing Organizations.

In to episode 51 of "The Air Force Starts Here" podcast we speak with Coggins and Maj. Gen. William Spangenthal, AETC deputy commander, about the first category of developing self.

“All of the categories under the Airman’s Foundational Competencies are all importing, but Developing Self is one where your individual drive can go a long way,” said Spangenthal. “If we do not become life-long learners, if we don’t continue to improve ourselves we are going to struggle and it is that drive that we see in our Airmen that helps make us the best in the world.”

Developing self includes the following foundational competencies:

-Accountability is when an Airman demonstrates reliability and honesty; takes responsibility for actions and possesses behaviors of self and team.

- Perseverance is when an Airman displays grit in accomplishment of difficult long-term goals.

- Communication means an Airman effectively presents, promotes and prioritizes various ideas and issues both verbally and non-verbally through active listening, clear messaging and by tailoring information to the appropriate audience.

- Decision Making is about making well-informed, effective and timely decisions that weigh situational constraints, risks and benefits.

- Information Seeking Airmen demonstrate an underlying curiosity; desire to know more about things, people, one’s self, the mission or issues; an eager, aggressive learner. Information seeking requires personal initiative.

- Flexibility describes an Airman who adapts to and works with a variety of situations, individuals or groups effectively.

- Resilience means an Airman negotiates, manages and adapts to significant sources of stress or trauma.

- Initiative is doing more than is required or expected to improve job results. Initiative as a foundational competency means an Airman takes action appropriately without being prompted. With initiative, an Airman strives to do a better job and thinks of creative ways to complete the job.

- Self-Control means keeping emotions under control and restraining negative actions when under stress. Self-control begins with emotional intelligence by knowing how to identify our own emotions and respond positively. Knowing what to do if you feel frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, anxious and sad is valuable for positive outcomes.

Understanding where an Airman scores on individual Foundational Competencies will help an Airman take ownership of his or her development.

 Airmen who want more information on the Airman’s Foundational Competencies and to participate in a self-assessment can log in to MyVector and select Air Force Competencies from the main menu.  

The myVector competency assessment tool also allows Airmen to request feedback from their supervisors and/or 360-degree feedback from subordinates, peers and higher-ranking members. Also, the member is provided links to educational resources to address areas for improvement.

You can stream The Air Force Starts Here Podcast.

Apple podcasts: 

Google Play: