Air Force resumes force reduction programs

Thursday , March 20, 2014 - 12:47 PM

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An F-16 Fighting Falcon flies a close-air-support mission over Iraq on Sunday, May 7, 2006. The F-...

Mitch Shaw, Standard-Examiner Staff

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Sequestration — it’s a phrase that’s been repeated often and seems like it will never go away.

The Air Force announced this week it will resume a program that will reduce its force by thousands of airmen over the next five years in an attempt to meet budget reduction requirements caused by sequestration.

The program calls for voluntary cuts through separation and early retirement plans, but it also calls for involuntary cuts that would be made at the discretion of special Air Force retention boards.

The program was first announced in December, but was halted earlier this year as defense officials took it under review.

On March 15 the Pentagon announced the program is back on.

The Air Force says reducing the force through voluntary means is a priority, but retention boards are not only planned for 2014, but 2015 as well, though airmen who are eligible for the retention boards this year won’t have to go through them again next year.

“Airmen who were eligible for programs during the first round in 2014 will not be eligible for the retention boards in 2015, unless they have specific negative quality force indicators,” said Lt. Gen. Samuel Cox, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, in a press release.

Cox said ensuring well-performing airmen are not subject to multiple involuntary programs is key.

Details on the nature and timing of the programs will be announced in the coming weeks, according to the Pentagon.

During testimony to the House Armed Services Committee in November, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, the Air Force chief of staff, said long-term impacts of sequestration could force the service to cut about 25,000 Airmen over the next five years.

Contact reporter Mitch Shaw at 801-625-4233 or mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.

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