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Air Force plans review board to further trim ranks

RAF MILDENHALL, England — The Air Force started the new year with another announcement about plans to trim the ranks to handle the impact of defense budget cuts.

On Friday, the Air Force Personnel Center released details about a quality force review board to be held in May that will consider separating airmen who have “specific negative reporting identifiers, re-enlistment eligibility codes, assignment availability codes or grade status reasons,” according to a personnel center release.

The board will only consider removing airmen who have less than 18 years service, or those with more than 20 years of duty, according to the release.

Airmen with 20 or more years of service who are cut by the board must apply for retirement and leave active duty by Oct. 1, according to the release. Those separated with fewer than 18 years of service must separate by Sept. 29.

“Some Airmen — those with 15 to 18 years of service as of July 31, 2014 — may be eligible for the Temporary Early Retirement Authority Program, so they may want to consider applying for TERA in lieu of meeting the board,” said Lt. Col. Rick Garcia, the personnel center’s retirements and separations branch chief, in the release.

Voluntary separation pay will not be offered to those selected for separation, but those airmen cut by the quality review board who have served between 6 and 15 years will get full separation pay, the release stated.

How many airmen this board needs to cut is uncertain.

“The number of airmen who may be involuntarily separated will depend upon how many voluntarily separate or retire before the involuntary boards convene,” Garcia said in an e-mail.

The quality review board is the second force-trimming measure announced by the service in the last two weeks.

On Dec. 27, the personnel center said an Enlisted Retention Board would be held in in June to consider trimming senior airmen through senior master sergeants in overstaffed career fields.

Those airmen separated by the retention board with more than six years of service can receive separation pay based on their time in service and base pay.

Those who voluntarily leave the Air Force will be rewarded monetarily.

For example, a staff sergeant with 12 years, three months and 13 days of service would receive $45,496.50, if he is selected for separation by the retention board, according to personnel center officials. A staff sergeant with the same time in service background who voluntarily separates before the board convenes would receive $56,870.62.

However, Mike Dickerson, a spokesman for the personnel center, said in a phone interview that those who voluntarily separate will not receive some of the benefits of those involuntarily separated.

Those airmen chosen for separation through retention board will be authorized Transition Assistance Program benefits, including 180 days of medical care for themselves and families and two years of commissary and base exchange privileges, according to a personnel center release.

Involuntarily separated airmen may also be able to rent on-base housing up to 180 days and may receive preferential consideration for Non-Appropriated Fund positions, wrote Mike Dickerson, a spokesman for the personnel center, in an e-mail. Airmen who voluntarily separate are not eligible for these benefits, Dickerson said in a phone interview.

The budget signed by President Barack Obama on Dec. 26 reduced the effects of sequestration by about $63 billion over two years for various agencies.

mathis.adam@stripes.com

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