"...do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

"For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism..."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Maxwell AFB, April 21, 2008

"You will need to challenge conventional wisdom and call things like you see them to subordinates and superiors alike."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, United States Air Force Academy, March 4, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More Big Blue Pink Slips for Officers?

The Air Force has taken some pretty interesting personnel measures as a result of the debt crisis. Those measures included an unpopular voluntary separation program, and denying continuation to majors twice passed over to the rank of lieutenant colonel (essentially booting officers out five years prior to retirement), and by numerous Reduction in Force boards for younger officers. The Air Force Chief of Staff, in the video above, mentions the challenges of reductions in force experienced after Vietnam.

In his book, Air Force Personnel Policy Development (1944-1974), Vance O. Michell describes the congressional budget defense cuts in 1969 and the effects they had on manpower. These effects included cutting the Air Force by four thousand officers by the middle of 1969. To accomplish this goal, captains twice passed over for major were not offered continuation, and early out options were offered. In 1970, budget constraints required another five thousand officers to be trimmed. This goal was sought by again allowing fewer officers to commission, and by offering early out programs. This wasn't enough. Mitchell writes:
Still short of its goal, the Air Force turned to the twice-deferrcd captains continued on active duty before that program ended, a group the service had carefully avoided. The officers selected for continuation during the first three years of the program (1963-1965) had received contracts sufficient to take most of them into the sanctuary zone (over eighteen years of service) that guaranteed retention until retirement at twenty years. Those selected in the last few years of the program (1966-1968) had no guaranteed contract beyond one year, but most accepting the offer probably believed that the war would last long enough for them to reach sanctuary. The announcement that all continued captains with less than eighteen years of service would be eliminated brought a hail of protests, as well as some lawsuits. Groups supportive of Reservists filed formal protests on their behalf. Nevertheless, James P. Goode, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, ruled in favor of the termination order, and about nine hundred continued officers were separated before the end of fiscal year 1970. Another three to four hundred in the sanctuary zone remained until retirement.
He continues to remark that for the next three years, voluntary programs allowed the program to reduce numbers without involuntary mechanisms. According to Mitchell, at the end of 1973 the Air Force was down to 114,000 officers, significantly less than the 138,000 officers it had in 1968.

Question for the peanut gallery: Do you think we're going to see the Air Force go even further beyond the personnel actions in 1970 by giving the boot to passed over majors who have been continued (offered and accepted continuation, with a corresponding date of separation)? Will the service kick out continued majors after fifteen, sixteen, or seventeen years of service?

I think it will.

No comments:

Post a Comment