"...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

Sunday, December 29, 2013

PSDM 13-130 & The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Let's hope that the reason PSDM 13-130 was not uploaded onto MyPers was because leadership is amending it to clean it up, and hopefully change what is ugly inside it.

So while this guidance is subject to change (and let's hope it does in several areas), here is the good, the bad, and the ugly from my point of view:

UPDATE:  The PSDM was changed, you can see what changed here.

The Good:

If you are eligible for the Reduction in Force (RIF) board, and you meet it, you will be able to write a ten page single sided letter to the board.  A well written letter explaining your value, your performance, and your record is huge - whether your desire is to leave the service with separation pay, or to be retained and continue to serve.

Depending on if you're one of the many hoping to be eligible to be let out of the service, or one of the many hoping to still have a job in a year, there are certain year groups that are eligible for the Reduction in Force (RIF) and certain year groups that are not.  Your year group is determined by your Total Active Federal Commissioned Service Date (TAFCSD) which can be found in vMPF (but which should not be trusted, as discussed later).  The document does not, however, indicate if the year group goes by calendar year or fiscal year (ie, would an individual with a TAFCSD of 15 Nov 2000 be in the 2000 year group, or the 2001 year group)?  Common sense would indicate it's based on calendar year, but it's not clear.  Fortunately, the PSDM directs the reader to AFI 36-2604.  Unfortunately, that regulation doesn't appear to exist anymore.

With the same caveats as above, certain AFSCs are eligible and certain ones are not.  The matrix of year groups and AFSCs that are, and are not, eligible has yet to be released.

According to the PSDM, "RIF-eligible officers with 15 or more and less than 18 years Total Active Federal Military Service (TAFMS) are eligible to apply for TERA."  This would seem to mean that if you're not eligible for TERA (and have at least fifteen years of service), you don't have to worry about being eligible for the RIF.  Or, to put it another way, no matter what it says on the TERA matrix, if you are RIF-eligible, you are eligible for TERA.  But it's not entirely clear.  Fortunately, the individual emails (discussed later) should clear it all up.  Hopefully.

The PSDM somewhat seems to indicate that new AFSCs won't be added to the list down this year's road.  It states, "AFSCs may be removed from eligibility with little or no notice based upon the needs of the Air Force."  Since it says nothing about adding AFSCs, that might be a good sign for those wishing to remain in the service.

Despite the confusion, there seems to be a built in date to make it clear and it's just around the corner.  The PSDM says "Approximately 31 Dec 13, the officers meeting the RIF and eligible for VSP will be notified by personal email through the virtual MPF" and later states, "MPS suspense to distribute OPBs with instructions to eligible officers is 14 Feb 14.”  Folks should have some sense of what lies before them in a couple of days, and certainly within the next six weeks.

Finally, depending on your desires, being too young or too old in your career might be good for you.  The PSDM says of the RIF that, "Officers with less than six years of Total Active Federal Commissioned Service (TAFCS) as of the mandatory separation date or with 18 years or more of Total Active Federal Military Service (TAFMS) as of the mandatory DOS are ineligible."  The mandatory DOS is 31 Jan 15.

The Bad:

Despite the assurance that those who are RIF eligible will also be eligible for TERA (assuming they have fifteen years), the fact is there are two separate matrices.  There is a released TERA eligibility matrix by AFSC and year group, and another RIF eligibility matrix by AFSC and year group that has not yet been released.  If those who are RIF eligible are also eligible for TERA, then why not have only one matrix?  It would be unfortunate to see those ineligible for TERA all of the sudden being told they are eligible for the RIF, but it does bring up memories of recent history.  And the document doesn't fail to mention that, "AFSCs and Year Groups considered are determined based on Air Force needs."

The policy says that those who are eligible for the RIF board will be eligible for VSP.  It's not clear if that means eligible to apply for VSP, where they can be denied and then RIF'd (as has happened in recent memory), or if it means you can elect VSP rather than meet the RIF board.  Hopefully this gets clarified.

The discussion of Date of Separation (DOS) could be clarified.  The document states that, "Officers with an approved DOS after the mandatory separation date of 31 Jan 15 will remain eligible for RIF consideration and if not selected for retention, their DOS will be re-established as of the mandatory DOS date."  Common sense would indicate this means that if you are eligible for the RIF, having a DOS after 31 Jan 15 will not change that fact.  A clarification might keep folks from wondering if their DOS after 31 Jan 15 actually makes them eligible for the RIF on its own.

Those trying to make sense of information will probably run to vMPF or AMS to generate a SURF and see where they stand.  Not so fast!  The document states that people need to "...receive an OPB and not an MPS-generated SURF or AMS product, as the two products do not contain the same information. Use AFPROMS to order all OPBs."  It's unfortunate that with all the confusion, the MPS generated SURF and AMS products can show conflicting information.  Perhaps those systems should be corrected so they are standardized and accurate, or scrapped in the name of saving money.  Folks will want to make sure they verify their core AFSC and year group using this AFPROMS system.  Unfortunately, it's not clear whether or not members can access this data themselves, and may instead have to rely on their leadership to do this.

The Ugly - And Boy is It Ugly:

Unlike enlisted folks, officers who are booted from the RIF board, and who have at least fifteen years of service, will not be offered TERA on the way out the door (or at least the PSDM fails to mention this fact, unlike the PSDM for enlisted programs).  While those who are RIF eligible with fifteen plus years of service are able to apply for TERA (with no guarantee it won't be denied, followed by them being booted from the RIF), there is no safety net should worse come to worse for officers.  This is a particularly ugly part of the policy, in that the Air Force has made it clear that officers merit less for their service than the enlisted folks they were responsible to lead.  It's good that the Air Force is going to offer this to the enlisted force.  It's the right thing to do.

But not doing the same for the officer corps is just plain wrong.

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