Military – Air Force

What They Do

Some members of the military are deployed to other countries or regions to defend U.S. national interests.

Members of the U.S. military service train for and perform a variety of tasks in order to maintain the U.S. national defense. Service members work in occupations specific to the military, such as fighter pilots or infantrymen. Many other members work in occupations that are equivalent to civilian occupations, such as nurses, doctors, and lawyers. Members serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or in the Reserve components of these branches, and in the Air National Guard and Army National Guard. (The Coast Guard, which is included in this profile, is part of the Department of Homeland Security.)


The military distinguishes between enlisted and officer careers. Enlisted personnel make up about 83 percent of the Armed Forces and carry out military operations. The remaining 17 percent are officers—leaders who manage both activities and enlisted personnel.

Enlisted personnel typically do the following:

  • Participate in, or support, combat and other operations, such as humanitarian or disaster relief
  • Operate, maintain, and repair equipment
  • Perform technical and support activities
  • Supervise junior enlisted personnel

Officers typically do the following:

  • Plan, organize, and lead troops and activities in operations
  • Manage enlisted personnel
  • Operate and command aircraft, ships, or armored vehicles
  • Provide military personnel with professional services in medical, legal, engineering, and other fields


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