2/3/2011 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force leaders announced involuntary force management programs Feb. 2 to reduce personnel as a supplement to the voluntary programs announced in December.
These measures are part of the Air Force's multi-year Force Management Program aimed at shaping and sizing the force. With more Airmen choosing to stay in the Air Force, retention is at the highest level in 16 years.
Air Force leaders implemented a tailored, multi-year program in 2010 to reduce the number of personnel to operate at the service's authorized end strength levels. According to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, even with those efforts, the Air Force ended fiscal 2010 approximately 2,300 officers over end strength.
"Retention projections for fiscal years 2011 and 2012 continue to be high," General Schwartz said. "Without additional measures, we could grow to 7,000 over our authorized end strength by the end of fiscal year 2012. Based on these projections, and our need to operate within our means, the secretary of the Air Force and I made the decision to intensify force management actions to meet our congressionally mandated ceiling by the end of fiscal year 2012."
The fiscal 2011 involuntary force management efforts predominantly affect officers.
"We were successful in managing enlisted end strength levels last year using a combination of voluntary programs, accession reductions, technical training eliminations and date of separation rollbacks," said Brig. Gen. Sharon Dunbar, the director of force management policy. "We plan to continue use of this strategy over the next year."
For all Airmen, there will be programs to reduce personnel at various phase points along a career.
"Reducing officer and enlisted accessions will help us minimize the impact on active duty personnel who are currently serving," General Dunbar said.
For junior officers, the plan includes force-shaping boards beginning this May. The FSB initially will consider year groups with excess officers in the judge advocate general, biomedical science corps and medical service corps competitive categories. The May FSB impacts officers in the 2006 through 2008 commissioned year groups. Officers not selected for retention by this FSB will be required to separate no later than Oct. 1, 2011.
Air Force officials also will conduct a reduction-in-force board in September for mid-grade officers. In lieu of meeting the board, eligible officers will have a one-month window in March to apply for voluntary separation pay, with separation by Oct. 1, 2011. The RIF board will consider all year groups with excess officers in the line-of-the-Air Force, chaplain, JAG, BSC and MSC competitive categories. This impacts officers in the 1999 through 2005 commissioned year groups. Officers not selected for retention by the RIF board will be required to separate no later than Feb. 1, 2012.
For both the RIF board and the FSB, Air Force leaders decided to apply a quality review of the entire competitive category, instead of the methodology used in past retention boards which focused only on certain Air Force specialties. The boards will retain the top 90 percent of officers within the affected competitive categories in eligible year groups. Following retention board results, Air Force officials will use the recently-announced officer crossflow process to rebalance between line specialties as needed.
Officer over-strength challenges will require Air Force officials to conduct selective early-retirement boards for lieutenant colonels who have been twice deferred for colonel and for colonels with four or more years time in grade who have not met a SERB in the last five years. These boards will occur in October 2011 and January 2012 and will consider officers in the LAF, chaplain and MSC competitive categories. Officers not selected for retention by the SERB will be required to separate no later than March 1, 2012, for lieutenant colonels and June 1, 2012, for colonels.
"Air Force leaders announced last year that promotion opportunities would be reduced to 95 percent to captain and 90 percent to major." General Dunbar said. "In addition to reduced promotion opportunities, our over-strength situation is such that offers of selective continuation may be limited."
"We fully understand how difficult these actions are on the Airmen affected by them," General Dunbar said. "This is why leaders at all levels will be engaged to assist Airmen with transition options."
General Dunbar said that Airmen are a trained and ready resource possessing the skills needed by the Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard and almost every Airman transitioning as a result of force management is eligible to continue serving in the total force.
"The years they've invested in the Air Force so far can pay off for them," said Chief Master Sgt. Larry Giles, the force requirements policy chief for the Air Force Reserve Command's Reserve Personnel Directorate. "The Air National Guard or the Air Force Reserve are great alternatives for Airmen who don't want to leave the Air Force all together."
Airmen also are uniquely qualified for many federal civilian positions and receive veterans preference when applying for federal service, General Dunbar said. Transition to the reserve component or an Air Force civilian position allows Airmen to remain a part of the Air Force family.
Airman and family readiness centers around the world host the Department of Labor Transition Assistance Program, offering Airmen information about the GI Bill and vital resources for a successful transition from the Air Force.
For more information on force management programs, call the Total Force Service Center at 800-525-0102 or visit the Air Force Personnel Center website.