Spend time on any Air Force website or social media page these days and you’ll find a key phrase that keeps popping up: multi-capable airmen. Simply put, multi-capable airmen, or MCA, refers to the concept of training airmen to do basic tasks outside their usual specialty. For example, an airman who normally fixes airplanes might learn to patrol an airstrip or help load a cargo jet. The goal is for the Air Force to be able to launch and recover aircraft without the large support bases the service is used to, which could be targeted in a possible war against China or Russia.
Experts say that these changes are vital to stay relevant in a future war, which many predict will move faster and strike farther than any war before it. However, each of these systems will also require closer coordination than ever before, and that needs to be taught.
“You want people trained in combat and medical care in the event where you don’t have the support system you normally have to save someone’s life,” said Katherine Kuzminski, senior fellow and director of the military, veterans and society program at the Center for a New American Security. “If airmen are going to require these skills, then the kind thing to do is to train them. But the flipside is it being seen like ‘we have to do everything now?’”
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