Air Force wants to trim 5,750 people by 2012

By JEFF SCHOGOL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 26, 2010

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Air Force is looking to get rid of about 5,750 people by fiscal 2012.

With the economy still lagging, retention is at a 15-year high. The Air Force has more than 335,000 airmen right now, well above its fiscal 2010 authorized active-duty end-strength of 331,700, service officials said.

The Air Force is on track to end this fiscal year 4,800 people above its authorized end-strength, prompting it to announce new voluntary and involuntary measures to get enlisted airmen and officers in overmanned specialties to leave, said Brig Gen. Sharon Dunbar.

Therefore, the Air Force is looking to cut 1,373 enlisted airmen and 4,373 officers by fiscal 2012, said Dunbar, director of force management policy.

Officers in some Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSCs) with too many people will be able to take voluntary separation pay, twice severance pay, until June 30, Dunbar said. If not enough officers take the money, the service will hold Reduction In Force boards for officers in certain AFSCs who have between six and 12 years of service.

Officers separated through a RIF board will get severance pay, but not the extra voluntary separation pay.

The Air Force may also have to also separate officers in certain AFSCs who were commissioned in 2006 and 2007, Dunbar said. Those officers would not be eligible for any separation pay.

Also, the Air Force is letting lieutenant colonels twice passed over for promotion and colonels with four or more years of service retire early. If that does not produce enough needed personnel reductions, the service will hold a Selective Early Retirement Board, Dunbar said.

For those enlisted airmen who can’t or won’t re-enlist in fiscal 2011, their separation dates are being moved up from next fiscal year to this April, June or August, said John Park, chief of the service’s force management division.

Through this, the Air Force expects to separate 1,000 airmen this fiscal year and 500 in fiscal 2011, Park said. The service will not offer voluntary separation pay to enlisted airmen right now.

The current downsizing is much less severe than the Air Force force shaping program announced in 2002, in which the service planned to cut 40,000 airmen to pay for expensive aircraft.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates put a halt to those personnel cuts in summer 2008 and authorized the service to grow to 330,000.

By November, the service was looking to end this fiscal year 3,700 airmen over its active-duty end-strength, so it announced a series of initiatives to get people to leave, but only 654 airmen have done so, officials said.

Who is in danger?

Selective Early Retirement Board categories
Line of the Air Force
Line of the Air Force — Judge Advocate General Chaplain
Medical Service Corps

Air Force Specialty Codes and year groups (2006, 2007) eligible for force shaping board
Space and Missiles
Aircraft maintenance
Force support
Operations research analyst
Behavioral scientists
Special investigations

Voluntary Separation Pay/Reduction in Force eligible (1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004)
Space and missiles
Aircraft maintenance
Communications and information
Force support
Behavioral scientists
Financial management

Source: U.S. Air Force

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