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ARLINGTON, Va. — Instead of glad tidings, December brought uncertainty to 852 Air Force lieutenants who received notification letters telling them they’re vulnerable to involuntary separation by Aug. 31.

From that group, commissioned in 2005, 124 lieutenants will be selected for separation by a board that will meet beginning March 30 at the Air Force’s Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.

The results of the separation board will be announced “around the end of May or early June,” according to Lt. Col. Scott Arcuri, the Air Force’s chief of retirements and separations.

The cuts are coming in the third year of the service’s four-year “force shaping” program to reduce officer and enlisted personnel to pay for modernizing its aging fleet of aircraft.

For officers with fewer than five years’ experience, the yearly chops are simply the way the service does business, Arcuri said.

“These guys have seen this [culling] their entire career,” Arcuri told Stars and Stripes in an interview in his Pentagon office. “It doesn’t make it any easier, but at least they’re not walking into it blind. Most of them understand the process.”

Yet until a notification letter arrived, around Dec. 4, the lieutenants didn’t know for sure who among them stood to lose his Air Force career in 2008.

Now they do: on Dec. 4, the Personnel Center began to post a “vulnerability chart,” which is updated at the close of business each Friday, Arcuri said.

As of Friday, seven lieutenants had volunteered to either leave the Air Force on their own or switch to a specialty that isn’t overmanned, according to the updated chart.

Any volunteer also makes others safe; those seven left a smaller pool of 838 vulnerable officers, from which the board will now need to cut 117 in order to meet the reduction goal.

Because they feel they have accessions under control, Air Force leaders hope this is the last year lieutenants will face involuntary separation, Arcuri said.

The fiscal 2006 program, which affected 1st and 2nd lieutenants commissioned in 2002 and 2003, sent about 1,715 officers back to civilian life. The following year, 279 lieutenants commissioned in 2004 were cut.

For information and the latest vulnerability chart updates, go to:


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