Do you know why they call us the Flesh Force? Because we can destroy the enemy without getting up from our chair, that’s why!
When your combat force is mostly pilots and crew, you spend a lot of time sitting down. Even remotely piloted airplanes (RPAs) have a pilot seated, you guessed it, in a chair. In the Air Force (AF), A LOT of time is spent training – that is, sitting on chairs. Chairs everywhere!
Let’s be honest; if you could do your job from the comfort of an office chair, you probably would. My dad has been a sheet metal worker his whole life and his best advice was to find a job where you use your brain more than your back. Although I worked in construction for years before joining the military, I knew he was right. As the Chair Force was not recruiting, I decided to enlist in the Air Force.
Origins of the Force Chair
The term Chair Force can be related to Basic military training of the Air Force (BMT). Unlike 13 weeks in the Marines or nine in the Army, Air Force trainees spent a total of six and a half weeks at BMT, of which only 36 hours “in the field”.
In 2008, the Air Force extended its BMT to eight and a half weeks. Even so, I bet most people would prefer the Air Force BMT to any of the other branches.
After BMT is completed, trainees (we don’t call them recruits, troops, or assholes) move on to tech training, known as tech school. BMT teaches how to be a member of the Air Force; The school of technology teaches how to work in AF. Some trainees have short technical schools. Staffists, for example, go through six weeks of tech school. We called them “pop tarts” because they showed up at tech school and then left before we knew it.
As an avionics technician, my tech school lasted 19 and a half weeks, on paper. In fact, I was in Keesler for technical school for a little over seven months. It is long to sit on a chair.
Ninety-five percent of the time spent in tech school is in the classroom. The remaining five percent is spent on physical training, details and obligatory fun. Compare that to the Marines, who leave training camp to go do more stuff at training camp. Or the soldiers, who leave training camp to go and do more stuff at training camp. Or the sailors, who leave training camp and go to school A… which actually looks a lot like AF, now that I think about it. Yes, but they are called sailors …
Once an aviator leaves tech school, they join what is commonly referred to as Big Blue. This is the first duty station, where interns learn how things are REALLY done in the Chair Force. They make you sit on a chair (do you understand?) And explain things to you. No, there is nothing quite like standing at attention. Nobody here cares if you have a form 341 in your pocket. You also don’t need to carry this flashlight (Lackland Laser, Keesler Candle) wherever you go. And no, the guy in the next room did NOT sleep with the general’s daughter.
From there, computer-assisted training (CBT) begins. CBT is a big reason why AF is the Chair Force in the eyes of many people. Everything from hygiene to bomb disposal is available in CBT form. In 2016, the AF reviewed 42 training courses NOT RELATED to his main career field to see if this number could be reduced; they dropped 15. That’s a lot of time on a computer chair.
Career Development Course
Every aviator has a job, and those jobs are organized by Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC). Each AFSC has an associated Career Development Course (CDC). No one advances in AF without completing the CDC. These CDCs are, you guessed it again, computerized.
Some are, anyway. Mine were books stapled together. Nine of them.
Each CDC requires a test at the end, then tests on “sets” of three, then a final test on each of them. Again, a lot of time on a computer chair.
All branches require training. Squids should know that jet fuel is not used to put out fires. Grunts need to learn what computers are, and Jarheads need to learn what flavors are in a pack of pencils.
Airmen learn EVERYTHING through ancillary training. Not only can I stop a chest sore by suction with CBT, but I also know that I cannot plug my coffee maker into an extension cord. Education is the key, kids.
To do work
My first duty station was Travis AFB, California, where I was posted to the C-5 Galaxy, aka FRED, the largest aircraft in the United States Army. Including the cockpit, there are 95 seats on this thing. Dude, those chairs were comfy! I’ve been around the world in these chairs so I should know. Before working at FRED I had to learn more, so I spent a lot of time in a classroom chair. There is a pattern emerging here …
After many eons on the flight line, I moved into an office, where I had my OWN chair. I stole the best from the fair and square conference room, thank you very much. From that chair I could study my field, which wasn’t much, and surf Chair Force memes online at my leisure. I even bought another chair, less comfortable, for visitors to sit down when they came to my office. It was actually a cabin, but it doesn’t look so important. The colonel was also in a cabin, so I didn’t feel that bad. My chair was cooler, however.
The psychological drawbacks of chair strength
Well, there really isn’t. Never in 20 years of career I would have liked to be in another branch.
I knew quite a few Grunts and Jarheads who “crossed in the blue”, but no aviator went the other way. If they did, they were dead for us so they didn’t matter. Other branches may be talking about the Air Force, but it’s out of love… or out of jealousy. Yes, probably jealousy.
Civilians do not have the opportunity to talk s #! T, however. Fuhgeddaboutit!
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