Air Force Military Working Dog Handlers are among the airmen in 33 Air Force specialties that will no longer be approved for special duty assignment pay after Oct. 1.

Since Fiscal Year 2022, airmen with the 341st Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, which trains military working dogs and their handlers, have been eligible to receive the special pay, which ranges from $75 to $450 per month, said Master Sgt. Deana M. Heitzman, an Air Force spokeswoman.

Heitzman stressed that only airmen with the training squadron were approved to receive special assignment duty pay, not all Air Force Military Working Dog Handlers.

To be eligible for special duty assignment pay, airmen must have a job that meets one of the following three criteria: their duties must require extremely demanding personal effort to ensure their missions are accomplished; they must be in a position that gives them greater responsibility or is more difficult than what is normally expected of their ranks, or they must be in positions that require rigorous screening, special schooling, or other special qualifications, Heitzman told Task & Purpose.

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A board consisting of two Major Command senior enlisted leaders and a general officer denied a request from the training squadron to continue to be eligible for special duty assignment pay, Heitzman said.

“All of the board decisions were based on a scoring methodology based off the definition of SDAP (Special Duty Assignment Pay), which for this request the board denied,” Heitzman said on Friday.

A U.S. Air Force Military Working dog plays with its handler after demonstrating its search and alert skills during the Military Working Dog Expo, November 18, 2022, on Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. This is the first Military Working Dog Expo put on by the 341st Training Wing and is designed to allow dogs and their handlers to show off their capabilities and training. (U.S. Air Force Photograph by Airman 1st Class Erin V. Currie)
A U.S. Air Force Military Working dog plays with its handler during an expo put on by the 341st Training Wing. (Airman 1st Class Erin Currie/U.S. Air Force)

Currently, the Air Force’s Military Working Dog career field is 87% manned of its authorized size, and that is expected to rise to 90% by the end of the year, Heitzman said.

Airmen serving in career fields for which the special pay has been discontinued will receive half of the original special duty assignment pay until Sept. 30, 2024, Heitzman said.

The Air Force has reduced the number of job specialties that receive special duty assignment pay next fiscal year from 103 to 70, according to an Air Force news release.

Here are the other career fields that will no longer be approved for special duty assignment pay as of Oct. 1:

  • President’s Emergency Ops Center
  • Cryptologic Language Analyst
  • Electronic Security Systems
  • Aircraft Battle Damage Repair Exp Depot Mx
  • Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)
  • 361st Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Group
  • Defense Courier,
  • 31 Communication Squadron and 39 Communication Squadron NC3
  • Army Support Weather Ops
  • Flight Attendants
  • 52nd Munitions Maintenance Group NC3
  • Airborne Mission System Operators
  • Flight Engineers
  • Loadmasters
  • Sensor Operators
  • Special Mission Aviators
  • Contracting
  • RPA Cyber Technicians
  • International Enlisted Engagements Managers
  • RPA Ops – Weather Support
  • Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System
  • Super High Frequency Operators
  • Advanced Intelligence Instructors
  • Ski Mission – Flight Engineers and Loadmasters
  • Airborne MSS – Host Nation Riders
  • 55th Operations Group Management Operator
  • 336 Training Squadron & 98th DRA Aircrew Flight Equipment
  • Diagnostic Med Sonogram
  • Honor Guard
  • Air National Guard RPA CyberOps
  • Radar, Airfield, & Weather Systems
  • Casualty Cell
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mario Linton, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, left, and Senior Airman Robert Kucholtz, 37th AS loadmaster, give a thumbs up to the 37th AS pilots of a U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules aircraft during exercise Agile Spirit 21 at Tbilisi, Georgia, July 27, 2021. Linton and Kucholtz showed their enthusiasm after successful navigation of Georgian airspace. Agile Spirit 2021 is a joint, multinational exercise co-led by the Georgian Defense Forces and U.S. Army Europe and Africa. Agile Spirit enhances U.S., Georgian, allied and partner forces' lethality, interoperability and readiness in a realistic training environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Milton Hamilton)
Two Air Force loadmasters during an exercise in Tbilisi, Georgia, July 27, 2021. (Senior Airman Milton Hamilton/U.S. Air Force)

The Air Force has also reduced special duty assignment pay for airmen in the following Air Force Specialty Codes:

  • Military Human Intelligence
  • 724th Special Tactics Group Operations
  • Support, Subsurface Analyst
  • Parachuting Instructor
  • 33rd Cyberspace Operations Squadron
  • Operating Location Alpha
  • Mission Field Chef,
  • Special Ops Surgical Team

Separately, airmen in 11 other career fields will see an increase in their special duty assignment pay:

  • Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape specialists
  • Cyber Warfare Ops
  • Flying Crew Chiefs
  • Special Reconnaissance
  • Air Force Office of Special Investigations
  • First Sergeant
  • Command Chief Master Sergeant
  • 844th Communications Squadron
  • Independent Duty Medical Technician
  • Respiratory Care
  • Fire Protection

“When reviewing eligible career fields and assignments, the focus is on the complexity, difficulty, and degree of responsibility required of the duty,” Heitzman said. “Annually, we reassess each SDAP community to ensure alignment with the requirements of the program.”

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