Air Force leaders expand force management options

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force leaders announced March 25 an expansion of force management measures designed to bring the service closer to its authorized funded end strength. Fewer Airmen than anticipated applied for voluntary programs offered under Phase One of the force management program initiated in November of 2009. This has prompted expanded programs to encourage more Airmen to apply for separation or retirement by Sept. 1, 2010, or earlier.

Both officer and enlisted accessions will be reduced to meet mission requirements. Voluntary and involuntary initiatives also will be implemented as appropriate. Eligibility for these programs will vary by Air Force Specialty Code and years of service to ensure the Air Force has the right balance of skills needed to meet current and future mission requirements.

"Air Force retention is at a 15-year high," said Brig. Gen. Sharon Dunbar, director of force management policy. "While this is tremendous testament to the dedication of our great Airmen, we now have more Airmen serving than our authorized, funded levels. We also have a number of career fields over-manned at the expense of other critical and stressed career fields. The challenge before us is to keep our force both sized and balanced within authorized, funded levels."

In an attempt to limit the impact to Airmen who are currently serving, Air Force officials will adjust accessions. Decisions to reduce accessions will be based on career field manning and future growth.

Expanded officer measures include waiving active-duty service commitments in targeted year groups; waiving all but two years of commissioning commitments for Air Force Academy and ROTC graduates as well as waiving their education and scholarship recoupment costs; and lowering the Reserve obligation for Palace Chase transfers from a three-year commitment ratio to one year for each remaining year of ADSC.

This phase of the force management program also involves a Selective Early Retirement Board. The SERB will consider for early retirement Air Force colonels with four or more years time in grade and lieutenant colonels deferred for promotion at least twice. This board will convene July 19 to 23 to identify those who must retire by Jan. 1, 2011.

Officers with more than six and less than 12 years of commissioned service in specific career fields and year groups will be offered voluntary separation pay as a means to encourage their transition from active-duty service. Should this incentive fall short of encouraging the number of transitions needed, a reduction in force board will convene in September to identify officers for transition by April 1, 2011.

A force-shaping board also will convene at this time to identify officers with less than six years of commissioned service in designated career fields and year groups for continued retention or separation.

Enlisted force management measures have been expanded to include waiving time-in-grade and limited ADSCs for Airmen in non-critical, overage Air Force specialties and year groups; and waiving up to two years of four- and six-year enlistments for those in non-critical, overage specialties and year groups. Palace Chase transfers also are available for enlisted personnel with a one-to-one rather than a two-to-one year commitment.

Dates of separation rollback will result in early release of some Airmen with less than 14 years of service or more than 20 years of service who have declined training, failed initial training, declined retainability for an assignment or who have negative quality indicators.

Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard and Department of Defense civilian hiring opportunities are open to all Airmen, officials said. Staffs at Airman and Family Readiness Centers host the Department of Labor Transition Assistance Program, offering Airmen vital information for a successful transition from the Air Force. Veterans also receive hiring preference for federal service and are eligible for GI Bill Programs.

"The Air Force has a long-standing tradition of offering comprehensive transition assistance programs," General Dunbar said. "It is important for our Airmen to know the full range of options and benefits available to them."

Officials said if the current retention environment continues, personnel reduction actions will continue beyond fiscal year 2011.

For more information on force management options call the Total Force Service Center at 800-525-0102 or visit the Total Force Service Center Web site.

(Dan Elkins contributed to this story)

 Briefings will be held at Shaw in reference to this on April 6:

-8:30 A.M. and 10 A.M. for all military personel at the base theater

-12 P.M. for officers only at Carolina Skies