NEWS | Dec. 20, 2013

Air Force announces programs to reduce size of military, civilian forces

By JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Public Affairs

Members of the Joint Base San Antonio Air Force team may see some personnel changes in their organization due to force management programs announced Dec. 11. Air Force leaders said the programs are designed to reduce the force as a result of sequestration.

The Air Force may have to cut about 25,000 Airmen over the next five years and also reduce the size of its civilian workforce by about 900 positions. The civilian reduction is in addition to maintaining approximately 7,000 vacancies across the force to meet the demands of a constrained fiscal 2014 budget, officials added.

"While Headquarters Air Force has not released specific numbers per base, this reduction will certainly affect Joint Base San Antonio," said Lt. Col. Erica Rabe, commander of the 802nd Force Support Squadron at JBSA-Lackland.

Fiscal 2014 force management initiatives are in addition to the announcement made in July, stating the Air Force will implement several force management programs to meet budget reduction requirements.

Air Force leaders made the decision to announce the overall strategic plan now so that Airmen and civilian employees have the necessary time to consider all their career options.

"The difference from years past is that we announced voluntary programs first, then involuntary," said Lt. Gen. Samuel Cox, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. "This year, due to the limited timeframe, we're announcing all programs at once to allow Airmen time to consider their options and ensure their personnel records are up to date."

Several programs will be announced in the coming weeks. Boards will consider an Airman's entire record of performance and will be conducted in accordance with Air Force promotion board standards.

Enlisted only programs
The chief master sergeant retention board will include two phases.

During phase one, chiefs in specific specialties may apply for voluntary retirement in lieu of meeting a retention board. Chiefs with 20 years of total active military service from identified overage career fields who do not apply for retirement before the phase one window closes March 15, 2014, will be considered by the board, Cox said.

The quality force review board will look at senior master sergeants and below with a negative quality indicator code. Negative codes include reporting identifiers, grade status reasons, reenlistment eligibility or assignment availability codes. For a complete list of codes, Airmen should visit the MyPers website at https://mypers.af.mil once the Personnel Services Delivery Memorandum for this program is released.

Airmen who have declined to obtain retainability for PCS, TDY, retraining/training, deployments or promotion will be looked at under the Date of Separation, or DOS, rollback program.

Voluntary separation pay applies to Airmen on the active duty list with more than six years, but no more than 20 years of total active federal military service, and will be offered to enlisted retention board-eligible Airmen as a voluntary incentive prior to retention board.

The enlisted retention boards will look at senior airmen through senior master sergeants in overage Air Force specialty codes with a date of rank of Jan. 1, 2013 or earlier. Senior NCOs with a minimum of 20 years of total active federal military service by the mandated retirement date will also be considered by the board.

Officer-only programs
Force shaping boards will consider active-duty officers with more than three but less than six years of commissioned service as of Dec. 31, 2014, for separation and will target career fields and year groups based on sustainment levels.

Overages in the officer corps will require the force to conduct an Enhanced Selective Early Retirement Board, or ESERB. An ESERB allows the service to consider retirement eligible active-duty officers below the rank of colonel, lieutenant colonels once deferred for promotion, and colonels with two to four years time in grade. By law, the Air Force will select no more than 30 percent for each grade in each competitive category.

Voluntary separation pay will be offered to active duty officers with six or more years total active military service as a voluntary incentive prior to the board. A reduction in force, or RIF, board will consider regular officers below the grade of lieutenant colonel who have served at least one year of active duty in their current grade, are not on a promotion list, and have six or more years total active commissioned service and less than 18 years of total active military service.

Officer and enlisted programs
Officers and enlisted in over-manned career fields with more than 15 but less than 20 years of service will be eligible for Temporary Early Retirement Authority, or TERA, Phase II. The Air Force will offer TERA in fiscal 2014 with the application window starting in January 2014.

Civilian workforce shaping
The Air Force will implement civilian workforce shaping initiatives, along with continued hiring to comply with mandatory funding targets and to rebalance the civilian workforce to meet skill demands for fiscal 2014 and beyond.

"The Defense Department used administrative furloughs to meet civilian pay budget demands in the compressed time frame between sequestration and the end of the FY13. We will meet a similar budgetary challenge in FY14 through a reduced workforce," said Brig. Gen. Gina Grosso, director of force management policy for the Air Force. The general added that the Air Force's strategy to meet civilian pay budget targets does not include a furlough.

To reduce the number of employees assigned against previously and newly abolished positions, the Air Force plans to maximize the use of Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay to entice employees who are eligible to leave federal service to do so voluntarily.

These programs offer early retirement for employees who are considering life outside of federal service and up to $25,000 for employees whose voluntary separation would save another employee from being involuntarily separated.

"Over the last couple of years the Air Force has gone through significant civilian pay budget challenges," Grosso said. "By implementing voluntary programs now we hope to mitigate future involuntary losses to the civilian workforce."

While the impact to Joint Base San Antonio is uncertain, Rabe said anytime there are force reductions, challenges present themselves in a multitude of areas.

"Being forced to maintain current operations with a lesser number of people can potentially affect sustainability of certain programs, not to mention the overall health and welfare of our Airmen. Joint Base San Antonio is no different," Rabe added.

"Our Airmen will continue to excel no matter what challenges they face," she added. "However, during this time of fiscal uncertainty, I highly encourage all members to reach out to services available at their military and family readiness centers, their commanders and first sergeants and to take the time to review and update their personnel records."

The Military and Family Readiness Center at JBSA-Lackland can be reached at 671-3722, JBSA-Randolph at 652-5321 and at JBSA Fort Sam Houston, call 221-2584.

For more information about force management, force shaping, civilian employment and other personnel programs, visit the myPers website at https://mypers.af.mil.

(Editor's Note: This article is a combination of two separate Air Force News Service articles.)