Some Air Force lieutenants may be asked not to separate
May 27, 2006
ARLINGTON, Va. — After it was discovered that missing paperwork might have devalued their retention package, 192 Air Force lieutenants recently notified that their Air Force career would end on Sept. 30 will get a second look.
A special board will convene June 26 to re-examine their records, Air Force officials said.
The young officers, 1st and 2nd lieutenants who were commissioned in 2002 and 2003, are part of a larger group of 844 Air Force lieutenants who were selected for involuntary separation by the April 2006 Force Shaping Board.
The 2002 and 2003 classes had to be downsized because over-enthusiastic officer recruiting and unusually high retention rates after Sept. 11, 2001, left the Air Force with an imbalance of junior officers, Air Force officials said.
On May 10, the Force Shaping Board selected 844 out of a total of 2,084 lieutenants from the two year groups for involuntary separation, which includes an honorable discharge and eligibility for programs such as Blue-to-Green (going from the Air Force and Navy to the Army).
The officers were selected after board members compared personnel records according to evaluations, board scores, and the level of over- or under-manning of their career field, Air Force spokeswoman Jennifer Bentley said Friday.
But as the board continued its “racking and stacking,” members started to note that a few of the personnel files appeared to be missing initial training records from the schools officers attend when first entering into their skills field of choice, Bentley said.
The board continued with its work nevertheless “because they were up against a deadline,” Bentley said. “They had to give [lieutenants] 180 days’ notice of separation, and they had to be separated no later than Sept. 29,” the end of the federal fiscal 2006.
After the board had finished and delivered its results, however, personnel officials found that the “schoolhouses” for certain skill groups had neglected to put training records into their graduates’ personnel files.
And those records could have made a positive difference in the board’s calculation to separate the officer, Bentley said, if a lieutenant had been a distinguished graduate of his or her school, or had another notation indicating outstanding performance, leadership qualities, or motivation.
For the 2002 group, six schoolhouses had not inserted training records into the personnel jackets of their officer graduates, Bentley said: aircraft maintenance, logistics readiness, security force, communications/information, public affairs and finance.
For the 2003 group, three schools had neglected the recordkeeping: air field operations, public affairs and weather.
Personnel officials have corrected the records and on Wednesday sent letters explaining the situation to the 192 officers, Bentley said.
The lieutenants have until June 19 to decide if they want to be reconsidered for retention by the special board, or accept the results of the April board and separate from the Air Force as scheduled, she said.
The results of the special board are scheduled to be announced on July 19, Bentley said.
If, after looking at the complete personnel records, the special board decides to keep some of 192 lieutenants, the Air Force will not go back and cut another young officer who thought he or she was safe from separation to make up the difference, Bentley said.
“Anybody identified as retained, will remain retained,” Bentley said.
Asked how the Air Force will pay for the extra personnel it might end up keeping on the books, Bentley said, “we’ll work it into the force-shaping plan. We need to do the right thing.”