AF officials announce manpower force structure changes

By Air Force News on March 7, 2012

Air Force officials released force structure changes and resulting manpower impacts from the new DoD strategic guidance and fiscal 2013 President's Budget Mar. 6.

The fiscal 2013 President's Budget adjusts Air Force military end strength to 501,000, with net reductions of 3,900 Active Duty, 5,100 Air National Guard and 900 Air Force Reserve billets.

According to the Air Force Chief of Staff, the Air Force's strategy is to apply resources to the people, programs, and systems that will best contribute to the new DoD strategic guidance.

"Working with our Guard and Reserve leaders, we used a balanced approach to adjust our Total Force end strength while maintaining the ability to execute strategic guidance," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said. "Our Total Force programmed reductions follow detailed assessments of future conflict scenarios and rotational requirements consistent with the new strategic guidance."

The Air Force is also announcing manpower changes on unit manpower documents resulting from the previously announced force structure reduction of 227 aircraft as well as additional adjustments not tied to aircraft. These changes primarily include the inactivation of a combat communications group and several air control squadrons, as well as right-sizing Air Force bands.

"We made a deliberate decision to avoid a 'hollow force' by prioritizing readiness over force structure," Schwartz said. "A smaller, ready force is preferable to a larger force that is ill-prepared because it lacks adequate resources."

Achieving the right Active and Reserve Component manpower balance became a priority under the new strategic guidelines for the Air Force's future. Since then, the governors have been given an opportunity to provide input to the plan as Reserve Component force structure reductions directly or indirectly impact all 54 states and territories.

"Our collaborative process with the Guard and Reserve yields a force with the most effective posture for surge capability and steady-state operational employment," Schwartz said. "Achieving the right active and reserve forces mix is critical for meeting our forward presence, rapid response, and high rotational demands with a smaller force."

"The Air National Guard will also internally realign its remaining manpower at units across the United States to properly source emerging force structure requirements and bolster readiness," explained Brig. Gen. Brian Neal, Air National Guard Readiness Center commander. "We will also repurpose manpower positions at Combat Readiness Training Centers, command and control units and flying squadrons."

"The realignment of military positions will improve our combat capability and ensure we are able to maintain our rapid response requirements as defined in Titles 10 and 32," Neal said. "Although we will retain fewer units available to deploy, we will maintain overall capacity and sustain command and control structure."

"To prepare for the FY13 end strength reductions, the Air Force is evaluating the entire suite of currently authorized force management programs to determine which ones will best size and shape the force to support force structure changes," explained William Booth, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Force Management Integration. "We plan to announce additional FY12 programs for the active component in the coming weeks, but neither the Air National Guard nor Air Force Reserve currently has force management programs scheduled for FY12 implementation."

Booth said all components are exploring force management options for fiscal 2013.

"As the Air Force takes steps to reduce our end strength, we will offer support programs to help separating Airmen translate their military skills into the private sector and facilitate the transition in a way that capitalizes on the tremendous experience in technical fields and leadership that they develop while serving," Booth said.

Schwartz emphasized the tough decisions required in the fiscal 2013 President's Budget request.

"In this economy we had to make difficult choices to align with the new strategic guidance and with the cuts required by the Budget Control Act over the next 10 years," Schwartz said.

"Finding the proper balance between force structure, readiness, activity levels and modernization was essential."

The Air Force determined the best course of action is to trade force size for quality.

"We will become smaller in order to preserve a high-quality and ready force, one that will continue to modernize and grow more capable in the future," Schwartz said.