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Scott prepares for force reduction measures

Posted 2/12/2014   Updated 2/12/2014 Email story   Print story

    


by Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


2/12/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- In December, the Air Force announced several force management programs aimed to cut 25,000 Airmen during the next five years and the first phase of that has begun with applications for voluntary separations.

Enlisted Airmen on active duty with more than six years but no more than 20 years can apply for a voluntary incentive to separate if they are in a career field with overages. The Air Force has begun taking applications for consideration and will do so up to May 1. If selected to separate, those Airmen will do so by the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 29.

After that date and depending on the numbers needed to achieve the end force strength, the Air Force will conduct its first-ever quality force review and retention boards for enlisted members. While there are about 1,100 Airmen at Scott who are eligible to voluntarily separate, there are another 1,000 who are vulnerable for the forced separation. This doesn't mean that all 1,000 Airmen will be forced to separate, but rather that they will be looked at during the retention review boards this summer.

"That's why the Air Force has been working so hard to provide as much information up front and far enough in advance, so that people can look at their options and make the best choice for themselves and their families," said Col. Kyle Kremer, 375th Air Mobility Wing commander, who has conducted commander's calls to address this topic with both the military member and their spouses.

Kremer said that even though the Air Force is reducing its force, he wants the people who are vulnerable and who have the opportunity to voluntarily separate to carefully consider their options and choose what's best for themselves and their families.

"You have to look at your own situation, and you've got to consult with your families. You have to talk about this and have those conversations with your spouse. Make informed decisions because it's not all doom and gloom. We need good people to continue to serve in the Air Force, so don't make this a panic decision."

For officers, there will be force shaping boards for those with more than three years but less than six, and they will also look at enhanced selective early retirement boards for officers at the rank of colonel and below. In addition, there'll be voluntary separation pay offered as well as early retirements for officer and enlisted members with more than 15 years but less than 20 years of service.

Along with holding town hall meetings, the base is training squadron representatives on the specifics of the various programs so they can assist the military personnel experts as well.

Last month, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody visited the base and addressed the effects of force management and how the loss was going to impact the Air Force mission.

"As we move out of Afghanistan and try to renormalize there is still going to be quite a demand signal for Airmen," Cody said. "We are going to have to figure out, as we become smaller and as we prioritize what we are going to be able to do as an Air Force and that we maintain a work-life balance that is reasonable for our Airmen and their families."

Cody said that this will be a time of uncertainty for some of the Airmen, and that the wingman concept is especially important during this time of turmoil.

"We have to treat each other with a level of dignity and respect," he said. "We have to help folks that are going to go through this and the families in a way that is meaningful. I mean, we're not going to be able to promise some of them anything other than, we're going to do our best by you as you make the transition."

Regardless of cuts to personnel, Cody said the Air Force environment is still going to be worth being a part of. Even if benefits and entitlements reduce in size, it will be a challenge to find anything comparable outside of the Air Force.

"This is the world's greatest Air Force because of the men and women that serve and while we go through this significant force reduction ...it's still going to be the world's greatest Air Force," Cody said. "There are still going to be a lot of men and women out there who want to come in and serve their nation."



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