Air Force says PCS moves continue after concerns of pause mount among airmen
Stars and Stripes February 2, 2023
The Air Force is processing new assignments and scheduled permanent-change-of-station moves are still going according to plan, the service said, following numerous social media posts referring to a pause in processing the movements of airmen.
“The Air Force Personnel Center is not pausing processing military assignment actions nor canceling assignments for those scheduled” to move in fiscal year 2023, Tech. Sgt. Deana Heitzman, an Air Force spokeswoman at the Pentagon, said in a statement to Stars and Stripes on Wednesday.
Numerous comments and screenshots of what appear to be Air Force documents and unit messages were posted to unofficial military social media channels earlier this week, informing airmen that assignments and moves had been temporarily paused due to a significant shortfall in the service’s PCS budget.
“We are Air Force wide 7-day assignment pause,” said an anonymous post Tuesday on Air Force Reddit, noting that someone had posted about the issue earlier but had since deleted the post.
The PCS budget is projected to be expended for enlisted members by Aug. 1 and sooner for officers, the post continued. “They are pausing to ensure that the math is correct and come up with a solution.”
Added to the comments below the post was a screenshot of a message directed to unit leaders, stating that the loading of new assignments into the system was on hold. Heitzman said she could not confirm the authenticity of the note.
Others said they received a similar message.
“Got the same from my Commander today,” said another Reddit post Tuesday. “He briefed us as soon as he heard so we weren’t caught by surprise. Lots of badly needed career progression about to be put on pause in my work center.”
Similar posts appeared on the popular Air Force amn/nco/scno Facebook page.
But Air Force officials said Wednesday that no changes had been decided.
An email sent to airmen from the Air Force Personnel Center on Wednesday backed up that statement, adding that earlier communication on the subject may have been premature or erroneous.
“To be crystal clear — we are continuing to process military assignment actions,” it said. “We apologize for the confusion from a previous message on this topic.”
The back-and-forth left some airmen skeptical regarding the service’s fiscal standing.
“I’m not trying to stoke fires, but nowhere in the statement did it address the current state of the budget,” said one Air Force Reddit commenter. “Just that assignments will still be processed and assignments won’t be canceled.”
Heitzman did not say whether there is a shortfall in the PCS budget, following an emailed question from Stars and Stripes.
A Government Accountability Office study published in 2015 determined that PCS move costs across the Defense Department increased 28% from 2001 to 2014, to $4.3 billion, after accounting for inflation.
The report found that the Air Force spent the highest per move, at an average of $8,548.
The service asked for $1.1 billion for 2023 PCS moves, according to Air Force budget documents.
Moving costs in general are on the rise because of inflation, higher shipping rates and gas price spikes, fueled in part by a supply crunch during the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
The military services also are now obligated to pay for more temporary lodging expenses. Last fall, the Defense Department mandated an increase in temporary lodging coverage from 10 to 14 days for stateside moves and up to 60 days for service members moving to an area with a housing shortage.