In November of 2011, I blogged about some dramatic "force shaping" measures the service had recently taken, and I predicted that the Air Force would go after continued officers and kick them out just before they could retire.
I discussed the 157 majors who were booted at the fifteen year point, on one specific promotion board. I'm not sure if the service was simply testing the waters with that board to judge a reaction, but for some reason they didn't repeat the bloodshed on subsequent boards. It's strange that one group of individuals would be targeted in that manner, but they were.
I have no doubt that this next year will be incredibly interesting, and I suspect the service will come back around and make another pass at that very same year group. It would make no sense. That year group is the bottom of the bathtub during a time of underproduction, and it was the only year group to see 157 officers booted at the 15 year point. Yet I suspect it will get targeted again. I'm also guessing that whatever policy targets it specifically, will be discontinued after the outraged media reports of officers being kicked out with more than 17 years of service, mere months before they hit the protection of sanctuary. I am guessing it will be the ultimate example of using people and then throwing them away.
I hope I'm wrong, but I doubt that I am. If I'm correct, it will be a real sight to see. Especially as other services provide Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA) retirements to those being shown the door with 17+ years of service. It's difficult to believe anybody could make the decision to take somebody with nearly two decades of a war time career, and then throw them out on the street with nothing to show for it during an economic recession, but it happened with this year group two years ago. I believe it will happen to them again in 2014. And it will have a devastating effect on keeping talent for decades to come as the younger folks understand that the service may take everything it can from them, and then discard them at the very last moment.
Keep the faith! In times like these, that might be your only option. If you don't keep it, they can't break it. I recommend kicking faith to the curb and focusing on the evidence. Of course planning doesn't hurt either.