Wednesday, January 24, 2007

TOP STORY >>Air Force officers face reductions

Leader staff writer

It’s too early to know how the Air Force’s current reduction in force for officers will affect Little Rock Air Force Base, according to Capt. David Faggard, public information officer. “We don’t know until early February what career fields and what people will be affected,” he said. “Right now, it’s just a message for people to be prepared, for people thinking about voluntary early retirement. He said the reduction in force board will consider officers with six to 12 years of service and determine “where the (jobs in question) will be racked and stacked.”

“While the goal has been to reduce active-duty end strength through voluntary programs where possible, if at the end of the extended Voluntary Separation Pay application window the (fiscal year) 2007 goal has not been reached, the remaining losses will be achieved through an officer RIF board in June 2007,” said Lt. Gen. Roger A. Brady, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel.

“Those who are not eligible for the VSP are not susceptible to the RIF,” said Maj. Jackie, 314th Airlift Wing Military Personnel Flight commander. “Commanders should have an honest, frank discussion with their officers on the reality of promotion and retention in the Air Force.” Bieker also said more details would be coming out in early February, but encouraged all officers to review the Air Force Personnel Center’s Website to see a list of potential overage career fields. “The window for officers to voluntarily separate was extended from January 31 to March 31, 2007,” Major Bieker said.

As of Dec. 28, the service had approved just over 1,800 applicants for the program. The RIF board process is expected to achieve approximately 1,000 officer reductions. Officers not selected for retention will be separated by Jan. 29, 2008.
“Officers meeting a promotion board during this time are not eligible,” the major said. Force shaping is not simply about reducing numbers, however.

“The Air Force is in transition and we must focus on optimizing our force structure,” Brady said. “Through voluntary separations, attrition, adjustments to accessions, retraining, and a RIF board, we can ensure we have the number of officers we need, in the right career fields, and with the right level of expertise. I encourage all commanders to conduct frank discussions with their officers concerning their vulnerability for the RIF board.” In 2004, the Air Force had 372,000 active-duty Airmen. Today, the service has about 347,300. Through force shaping, the goal is to reduce that number by another 31,000 to about 316,000 by fiscal year 2009. In fiscal year 2007 alone, the Air Force has over 5,500 projected officer losses (about 70 percent of the goal) and 16,500 projected enlisted losses (almost 50 percent of the goal).

These losses reflect the combination of targeted force shaping and normal attrition, which total over 30,000 each year.