Air Force to cut 2,300 officers from its rolls

Stars and Stripes
By Geoff Ziezulewicz
February 3, 2011

RAF MILDENHALL, England — Some Air Force officers could see themselves involuntarily out of a job by this fall under a new force management program announced Wednesday.

Despite the service implementing a multi-year program in 2010 to reduce the ranks, the Air Force still ended the fiscal year with approximately 2,300 officers more than it needed, according to an Air Force news release.

Enlisted goals have been met, and this next round of separations will affect commissioned officers, the release states.

Air Force retention is at its highest level in 16 years.

The Air Force said in March 2010 that it was looking to get rid of 5,750 people by fiscal 2012. Last March, the service had more than 335,000 airmen, well above its fiscal 2010 authorized end-strength of 331,700.

“Retention projections for fiscal years 2011 and 2012 continue to be high,” Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff, said in the release. “Without additional measures, we could grow to 7,000 over our authorized end strength by the end of fiscal year 2012.”

In addition to those projections, the “need to operate within our means” was another factor in the decision, he said.

As part of the plan to reduce the force, the service will introduce force-shaping boards for junior officers beginning this May.

The board will consider the 2006 to 2008 commissioned year groups in the judge advocate general, biomedical science corps and medical service corps categories. Officers not selected by the board for retention will have to separate by Oct. 1, according to the release.

A reduction-in-force board will begin in September for mid-grade officers, but eligible officers can apply for voluntary separation in March that would have them leave the force by Oct. 1. This board will consider officers commissioned from 1999 to 2005 in the line-of-the-Air Force, chaplain, JAG, biomedical science and medical service categories. Those not selected for retention will separate by Feb. 1, 2012.

“This is a difficult time,” Schwartz said in a Wednesday e-mail to airmen. “The results of last year’s reductions are no doubt affecting units and lives across our Air Force family.

“With a very talented, all-volunteer force answering our nation’s call in a variety of global commitments, it is not easy to select Airmen for early transition from the active duty force.”

In the end, the boards will retain the top 90 percent of officers within the affected categories in the eligible year groups, according to the Air Force. …