"...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

Monday, December 30, 2013

Glenn Greenwald - A Great American

I've posted stuff about Glenn Greenwald previously, and about how after a few email exchanges between Glenn and myself, my wife and I got to meet and chat with him.

He is an exceptional American.  Not only is his legal pedigree top notch, but his moral pedigree is amazing.

He is truly a great American, and the video above should be required viewing for all military officers who wish to make good on their oath to the Constitution, and who wish to emulate principle and courage.

Bar talk is no substitute for the real thing.

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.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Download PSDM 13-130 Here - Air Force Officer RIF/VSP

After putting the word out, it didn't take long for somebody to send me the PSDM 13-130 that I asked about yesterday.  Apparently it wasn't "supposed" to be released already, but it was - just not to everybody so they could all make informed decisions.  That's a foul.

Unlike PSDM 13-131, this PSDM is not marked For Official Use Only (FOUO) so you can download the document here.

NOTE: The 24 Jan 14 updated "official" PSDM 13-130 has been released, is still not FOUO, and can be downloaded here.

Sadly, the Case of "Officers Being Treated Worse Than Those They Lead" has been solved, and what the evidence shows is that the Air Force is in fact giving enlisted folks TERA if it boots them out with more than fifteen years, but it is NOT giving TERA to officers it boots out with more than fifteen years.

That is a serious double standard.  I don't have the energy right now to delve into a policy where those who shoulder the burden of a commission are not treated in the same manner as the enlisted members they were responsible to lead.  Not today anyway, but I hope to tackle it in another post.  But while I'm glad that enlisted folks with more than fifteen years are rightfully given a partial retirement before being shown the door after decades of war, this policy not also being applied to officers is a double standard that definitely deserves a double facepalm.

The bottom line appears to be this...  Serving as a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force merits less than serving as an enlisted member.  We truly are in an Alice in Wonderland world.

Amazing times we live in.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Where in the World is PSDM 13-130?

People claim to have seen it.  They say so on the world wide web, so it must be true.  Some claim to have gotten it emailed to them by those in the know.  Others claim to have seen this mysterious document floating in a lake in Scotland, while still others swear they saw the tracks of this somewhat-important-to-folks guidance making huge foot prints deep in the woods.  It's all a huge mystery, and it's hard to separate fact from fiction, reality from conspiracy theory, because PSDM 13-130 still has not been uploaded to the MyPers website!!

Uploading it to MyPers for people to see would take all of ten seconds and two button clicks.  Seriously.  That's all it would take.  Ripley's Believe it or Not.

Oh where, oh where, is this document on Air Force Force Shaping of officers in 2014?

If the intent was to arm people with information in a timely manner over the holidays, might I recommend actually arming them with the information?  Since it has been released to some people, wouldn't it make more sense to release it to all people?  Or perhaps only the people that have seen this document days ahead of everybody else are going to face separation programs?  It's a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

Or, wait a second, could it be?  Is it possible this is a clever introduction to what this mysterious PSDM 13-130 will have to offer?  Is this meant to demonstrate beyond words, on a psychological level, that the Air Force has decided to treat some people differently than others, not unlike those connected few who have access to this guidance ahead of time?  What titillating news is to be found inside this sought after Adobe product?

Could it be that the Air Force is going to kick out continued officers with more than fifteen years of service via the RIF, and NOT give them TERA as a consolation prize?  Despite the fact the Air Force is giving enlisted folks TERA if they are booted with more than fifteen years?

Now that would be a mystery worth solving!  Let's call it the Case of "Officers Being Treated Worse Than Those They Lead" and hope some crack detective gets on it.  Perhaps they will take the case for a handful of DFAC Scooby Snacks.

But this may just be much about nothing.  Hard to know.  All we can do is speculate and guess.  Because the existing guidance is being kept from us.  Or slow rolled.  Who knows, it's just a big mystery as the Air Force seeks to boot a bunch of meddlesome kids.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thanks for the Relay NORAD!

It appears the message got through to Santa.  I went to a Town Hall today and got some more information on the questions on my Christmas list:
Dear Santa,

1.  Since the announcement stated that enlisted who were RIF'd with more than 15 years will automatically be offered Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA), and since that same detail was for some reason not provided for officers RIF'd with more than 15 years in...  Well....  Will it be offered for officers, too?

2.  Since the announcement stated that enlisted force shaping boards would not consider those who would have eighteen years of service by the mandatory separation date since they would be in "sanctuary," and since the same details were not offered for officers who would be separated with eighteen plus years...  Well...  Will officers also be considered to be in sanctuary if the separation date puts them at eighteen years and therefore also spared the RIF?

3.  Are pilots going to be denied TERA yet again in January (because they're hacking the mish in not-overmanned-career fields with less than stellar manning unlike those officers being offered TERA), only to months later find that 550 jets were cut from the inventory afterward, making them magically (and without any previous knowledge, of course) eligible for the RIF?  Or are pilots so "bored" that they will be considered overmanned and allowed the same opportunity as other officers in January?
What Santa today said was:

1.  Officer involuntary/voluntary programs will target officers in "overage populations" (by AFSC and year group).

2.  Enlisted folks who are not retained after a board, who have more than 15 years of service, will NOT be offered TERA.  This contradicts recent guidance on MyPers:
- Quality Force Review Board (QFRB). The... TERA will be offered to Airmen with at least 15 years of service who are not retained....

 - Enlisted Retention Boards. The... TERA will be offered to Airmen with at least 15 years of service before the board and to similarly eligible Airmen who are not retained...
I'm going to track down if this really true or not.  If not, I'll continue to ask whether the same offer of TERA will be made to officers who are not retained from the RIF.

3.  My second question from my list was answered, and it was shown on page/slide eight of a powerpoint slideshow.  The RIF board for officers will not consider officers who will have eighteen years of service as of January, 2015, just like the enlisted boards.

4.  The list of those eligible to apply for TERA has been created, but has been put on hold for some reason.  Expect notifications to come if you are eligible for the program.

Santa's slides with more information can be found here.   These slides have not yet been verified by AFPC, though the question has been asked, so it's possible one wing got it wrong (though I doubt it in this case).
I'll continue to find and verify information, and then update this blog post.  Thanks for the quick turn around Santa!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Americans Break Promise with the Military? Or the Other Way Around?

I've watched the budget "debate" unfold up until today, when Congress passed a military retiree pay cut and sent the bill to be signed by the President.  During that time I've also talked with average Americans about their support of cutting from the paychecks of military retirees, and those discussions reinforced my previous view.  Many Americans simply do not care about keeping their promise to those who wield violence in their names.  Somehow they have internalized false messages rather than facts, as they seemingly do every election, and have come to see military pensions as having caused the deficit and even the downfall of Detroit.  Everything must be on the table they say, repeating that message like some farm animals repeat "four legs good, two legs bad!"  But what is most striking is how easily they dismiss the idea of keeping good on your promises.

It is as if the average American has found a much more destructive way to spit on the troops, after they come home from war.  The real shame of it all, is the lack of trust that comes from breaking promises.  That lack of trust is dangerous for America.

To be fair, the military makes a promise too.  That's what creates the contract, and there are services that must be rendered to earn military retirement benefits.  You know, to well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which you enter.  Military members promise to support and defend the constitutional rights of Americans, and to not violate those rights even when so ordered and even when their career, their convenience, and their liberty is on the line.  Doing the right thing is difficult, just as resisting the urge to legally steal from somebody else is difficult when the financial chips are down.  Of course, it is apparent that few in the military make good on those promises.  The National Security Agency (NSA) violates the rights of Americans by the millions on a daily basis.  More frighteningly, the military fails its oath when ordered to assassinate American citizens without charge or trial.  So has the military been faithful in delivering services rendered?  Can it possibly be faithful when it kills innocent Americans and deprives them of life without so much as their American right to a jury trial?

Perhaps this breaking a promise with those who serve in the military, is a result of the military first breaking its promise to America?

That's not at all what I hear from average Americans, but it would be a reason I would understand.  Sadly, it's not mentioned by those Americans who support the theft of military pensions.  What I have found is that the lack of trust comes from a mutually shared lack of morality.  Americans care as little for their rights as those who serve in their name, and are just as quick to break their word for their own benefit.

Still, this latest legislative move won't help build trust between the People and those who promise to support and defend their constitutional rights.  It won't help defend this nation, and it won't help defend our rights that are being savagely attacked on a daily basis.  It will not help fix a military that is ethically and professionally in critical need of being repaired.

This is a very bad development in a sea of very bad developments.

Santa Delivers Vague RIF Presents for the Holidays

General Welsh, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force (CSAF), said the other day of the force shaping bomb shell that was released on airmen, one day prior to learning their retirement benefits were on the way to being chopped, and several days prior to the holidays that, "...our belief is we need to put the guidance out as early as possible so they have a chance to think through the impact on them or the potential impact on them if they're eligible for any of these particular force-shaping measures."

And yet as I look around the internet and talk to folks, I see and hear more confusion than anything.  Who is affected exactly?  I hope that while NORAD is tracking Santa, it can relay him a message and ask him to provide a little detail, rather than a generic feeling of everybody is being fired, for airmen to share with their loved ones. 
But I realize Santa is busy, so I just have three questions on my Christmas list that I would like to get answered before next Halloween.  I mean, since the details were strangely left out of the officer program and yet supplied to the much larger enlisted force (at least more details).  Somebody I know tried emailing Santa's workshop at AFPC using the digital My-Pers-NorthPole website, but the answer they got was "Santa will tell you based on if you're naughty or nice at a time and place of his choosing, and based on his view of naughty and nice."  The MyPers folks didn't actually say that, but they did answer the question with something along the lines of, "that information will be released in the future."

Nice.  Very comforting.

So since Santa is busy figuring out how he will steal presents he promised to good little boys and girls who fulfilled their ends of mutually agreed upon contracts by being good all (twenty+) year[s], I'll just post my questions here.  I am expecting coal in the stocking, as most of us have come to expect from big blue Santa.  Fortunately for me personally, I haven't believed in Santa since the second grade.  But I could be wrong, so my Christmas list is for three simple answers in a timely fashion.

Dear Santa,

1.  Since the announcement stated that enlisted who were RIF'd with more than 15 years will automatically be offered Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA), and since that same detail was for some reason not provided for officers RIF'd with more than 15 years in...  Well....  Will it be offered for officers, too?

2.  Since the announcement stated that enlisted force shaping boards would not consider those who would have eighteen years of service by the mandatory separation date since they would be in "sanctuary," and since the same details were not offered for officers who would be separated with eighteen plus years...  Well...  Will officers also be considered to be in sanctuary if the separation date puts them at eighteen years and therefore also spared the RIF?

3.  Are pilots going to be denied TERA yet again in January (because they're hacking the mish in not-overmanned-career fields with less than stellar manning unlike those officers being offered TERA), only to months later find that 550 jets were cut from the inventory afterward, making them magically (and without any previous knowledge, of course) eligible for the RIF?  Or are pilots so "bored" that they will be considered overmanned and allowed the same opportunity as other officers in January?

Thanks in advance for any questions you can answer, Santa.  I sure did appreciate the resiliency training the other day, and the discussion of how suicide in the military has increased dramatically over the years.  I'm sure this news right before the holidays, with limited details, will strike just the right tone!

Happy Holidays, and may the Reduction in Force bless us all - every one,


Monday, December 16, 2013

Spouses Unite with a Twitter Town Hall & The Wicker Amendment

A military spouses group has taken to a Twitter town hall about the military retirement thieving legislation pending a vote in the Senate.  A video discussion with the head of the group is available here.

Also, there has been some discussion of the Wicker Amendment that has been proposed in the Senate, which would strip the military retirement theft from the legislation.  It is also pending a vote in the Senate.

Additionally, it appears some mainstream media coverage has taken up the issue finally, albeit with a glaring inaccuracy that this bill will not affect current military retirees.  CNN got this wrong, as this legislation as is will affect current and future retirees.

Hat tip to Tony Carr for keeping folks informed.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Stolen Retirement - What Would Bud Day Do (WWBDD)?

The internet and social media is spinning as veterans absorb the fact that government is once again attempting to break its promise to military retirees.  This attempt comes not long after Colonel Bud Day crossed the fence for the final time.  Bud Day's accomplishments were many, and his heroism and patriotism is well known.  What some might not remember, however, is that one of his acts of patriotism was challenging the government in a federal lawsuit, after it welched on its promise to provide free health care for life to those who exchanged decades of service for a measure of health security after.

Bud Day, and a group of many other veterans, filed suit in a district court.  The district court dismissed their lawsuit on the grounds that the veterans did not prove that there was a contract between the government and military retirees.  The veterans appealed to the United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit in the case Schism v. United States.  A three judge panel ruled in favor of the veterans and overturned the district court ruling.

The government, however, requested en banc review and it was granted.  The appeal was then heard by all the judges of the court, and nearly three years later the full court reversed the ruling of the three judge panel and ruled against the veterans in a nine to four ruling.  A subsequent attempt by the veterans to be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) was denied.

In this blog post I intend to explore the reasoning of the 2002 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, to see what light it might shine on the legislation currently being considered by the Senate which would reduce retirement benefits to military veterans.  Key to this discussion will be what constitutes a contract between the government and its military personnel, just as it was when Colonel Day made the case.  The appeals court wrote in its opinion:
....plaintiffs assert, the government breached these implied-in-fact contracts by effectively denying them free care so they had to purchase Medicare Part B insurance in order to be treated by civilian doctors or obtain medications without paying fees because space was no longer available in military facilities where care and medications were free. We must decide whether the government is bound by those promises.

The government in its defense admitted that promises were made.  The court wrote:
To induce people to join the armed services during the World War II and Korean War era and make it a career, military recruiters, under the direction of superiors, orally promised recruits that if they served on active duty for at least 20 years, they would receive free lifetime medical care for themselves and their dependents. The government concedes such promises were made in good faith and relied upon.
The court mentions that the lower district court ruled against the veterans, "holding that because the promises were not authorized they are not enforceable."  In other words, the Department of Defense's mouth was writing checks that its congressional body could not cash, as Congress had passed no laws that made free health care for life a contract.  The court wrote:
The district court concluded that because no statute authorized these promises, no valid contract was formed between the government and plaintiffs (or other similarly-situated military retirees, i.e., those who entered service prior to 1956 and by 1995 were 65 or more years of age).
The court states from the onset of its opinion that, "The principal question before us is whether the promises made to the plaintiffs, older Air Force retirees, were within the authority of the Air Force Secretary..."  and then concludes, "Because 5 U.S.C. § 301 at most authorizes space-available treatment, and not free health insurance for life, we hold that the Air Force Secretary lacked the authority in the 1950s when plaintiffs joined to promise free and full medical care."

A pension, however, is established by congressional statute, unlike health care promises that were made unilaterally by the department of defense.  However, the court continues further with a very important section, stating:
Further, under long-standing Supreme Court precedent, "common-law rules governing private contracts have no place in the area of military pay," Bell v. United States, 366 U.S. 393, 401, 81 S.Ct. 1230, 6 L.Ed.2d 365 (1961), or pensions and hospital privileges, see Lynch v. United States, 292 U.S. 571, 577, 54 S.Ct. 840, 78 L.Ed. 1434 (1934) (citing United States v. Teller, 107 U.S. 64, 68, 2 S.Ct. 39, 27 L.Ed. 352 (1883) for the proposition that the grant of pensions and such privileges creates no vested right in the recipient and can be withdrawn or redistributed by Congress at any time). Thus military retiree compensation, including free military medical care and government-provided insurance, is controlled exclusively by statute, and so an action for breach of an implied-in-fact contract cannot lie. See id.
The court cites the SCOTUS decision from 1934 in Lynch v. United States, in which the nation's highest court ruled:
Pensions, compensation allowances and privileges are gratuities. They involve no agreement of parties; and the grant of them creates no vested right. The benefits conferred by gratuities may be redistributed or withdrawn at any time in the discretion of Congress. United States v. Teller, 107 U.S. 64, 68; Frisbie v. United States, 157 U.S. 160, 166; United States v. Cook, 257 U.S. 523, 527.
The appeals court then concluded its finding stating, "Accordingly, we... can do no more than hope Congress will make good on the promises recruiters made in good faith to plaintiffs and others of the World War II and Korean War era..."

Interesting times we live in.  We can keep the faith, and hope for the best.  We'll see where that gets us.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Theft is Afoot - Your Retirement Being Stolen Right Now

The House of Representatives passed the Ryan-Murray budget today, according to the Wall Street Journal.  It's on its way to the Senate next, and then when signed by the President, will mark the first theft from military retirees since health care promises were retracted many years ago.

The theft is in the form of decreasing the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) by one percentage point.  Currently COLA is set to match the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which adjusts for inflation, or the buying power of your retirement money.  Assuming a correct CPI, today a military retiree's pension of $700 a month will continue to buy $700 worth of goods over the years, even as inflation rises and destroys the buying power of the dollar.  But that is what the House of Representatives has voted to change today, and it matters.

And inflation will most certainly rise a great deal, as the government continues to print money out of thin air and purchase toys and pork with history's largest credit card.

This is how the government "saves" money - by ensuring that as they print money in the future to pay for whatever programs or wars or foreign aid packages, military retirees will get less money because their retirement paychecks will not be able to purchase $700 worth of goods any more.  Over time, military retirees who used to be able to pay for their mortgage, will have to come up with money from somewhere else to pay that same mortgage, as their paycheck will no longer rise to cover inflation.  Put another way, every single year the retirement benefits of retirees will go down.  Every single year, they will be able to purchase less with their retirement check than the year before.

In short, our government is poised to "save money" (in quotes because in reality it's simply diverting money to other pockets) by breaking its word, and by not owning up to the contract they made with those they have sent to fight and die for whatever reasons they dream up.  In bipartisan fashion, of course, which is easy for them to achieve when they really want.  They play the role of Republicans and Democrats only for a puppet show.  When they want something done, they get it done despite the manufactured drama.  There is only one party in reality, and we're not in it.

A contract is a contract.  Military folks give up a great deal for their benefits.  We were told our leadership would not break the faith, and would not touch the retirement benefits of actively serving or currently retired veterans, but would make changes to programs offered to the new person who considers military service.  We were told we'd be grandfathered from any changes.

We were told if we liked our mutually agreed upon contract, we could keep it.

If this bill passes and is signed into law, it will mark the greatest theft from military personnel since Bud Day lost the battle to keep the government from breaking its word on health care.  It will be theft, pure and simple.  I'll tell you one other thing about this move.  It will start at 1% and once that precedent is set, it will not long after become 2%, until your retirement paycheck no longer has the buying power to purchase anything resembling what you could purchase originally. At least you'll be able to take that to the bank.

To those who don't pay attention this might not seem all that bad.  It is.  But it will get much worse.  We in the military are merely chess pieces to the politicians, quiet and easily managed and manipulated, to be used and abused and discarded at their will without any concern for our laws or agreements.  But remember they care about the massive military suicide rate, they want us to be resilient, and they appreciate the sacrifices of our families.

When it helps them get elected.  Shameful.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Don't Say I Didn't Tell Ya - The RIF for 17+ Year Majors

Two years ago I called it.  I said that the Air Force would throw majors out after they gave nearly two decades of service during a time of continuous warfare, just prior to them cashing in on the Life on Layaway that an Air Force career requires.  People told me there was no way that the Air Force would do such a thing, and certainly they would not boot people with over fifteen years without giving them the early retirement.  But I knew better.  I've seen their moral calculations and I know their recipe.  Once the politicians started touting phrases like "break the faith," the writing was on the wall.

We have just learned today that the Air Force is planning to hold Reduction in Force (RIF) boards as part of its Force Management 2014 program, in a paragraph neatly, and tactically, tucked into a paragraph that appears to simply cover "voluntary separation pay:"
A reduction in force, or RIF, board will consider regular officers below the grade of lieutenant colonel who have served at least one year of active duty in their current grade, are not on a promotion list, and have six or more years total active commissioned service and less than 18 years of total active federal military service.

So what this announcement effectively means is that the Air Force is targeting continued majors with more than fifteen but less than eighteen years.  Just as I predicted, the service has now made it clear that it is poised, for the first time in history, to toss out continued majors just prior to them becoming retirement eligible.

It's an amazing development, especially given the strangely isolated continuation board that booted 157 majors at the fifteen year plus point because they were twice not promoted to Lt Col-- a blood bath that strangely, for some reason, was not repeated on subsequent boards.  But the service, while sparing majors during later continuation boards, has moved on to the very same officers who narrowly escaped the blood bath, and who were offered continuation after twice not getting promoted, and who accepted that continuation offer to retirement.  Why the focus on this particular year group?  Hasn't it been targeted enough?


What is even more interesting is that the service is touting Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA) for "overmanned" career fields, while putting on notice those in the critically manned careers that have been doing more with less for a decade or more--informing those in harder and less desirable and more utilized jobs that they will be booted with no retirement to show for it.  While the guys enjoying the banker's hours in overmanned careers walk away with a partial retirement, the warfighter will be on the street with nothing to show for it.  But, as I have mentioned previously, TERA is only being used as a public relations magical shield to make it seem like the service is offering early retirement to folks.  In reality, they are denying the vast majority of those who apply.  The Air Force Times is apparently read into the program, helping spread the illusion that people have the option to retire early instead of facing involuntary separation.  Hopefully they'll pick up on the hot tip that a RIF of continued majors is a historic event, and perhaps something worthy of reporting.

Another interesting tidbit is that all the boards equate the separation date with time in service, and do not consider those who would hit eighteen years of service as of the date of separation - folks in that boat are treated as having already hit sanctuary, so they don't face the board.  That's the case for all the boards, except for this historic RIF of majors with more than seventeen years, which does not set such a date.  It appears when it comes to this particular demographic of majors about to collect on a life time of sacrifice, some more "flexibility" with who can be pink slipped is desired.

So let me dispense with the mystery.  Remember those who volunteered for separation and were denied for being too critical, but then were months later kicked out with a much less severance pay?  That was foreshadowing, an appetizer if you will.  There will be majors with nearly eighteen years of service who will apply for the early retirement, will be denied because they are "too critical" or their career field is not "overmanned," and who will then be kicked out of the service.  But here is the real poetry of it.  They will be kicked out with a separation date that takes them just over eighteen years of total service.

Fortunately the Air Force appears to be giving early retirement to enlisted folks who get booted with seventeen years of service.  That's good leadership, and I am glad the enlisted are being protected with a sensible policy.  But that policy, strangely enough, is missing from the officer side of the house.  I guess rank really does have its privileges.

As I predicted previously in a blog post entitled, "Keep the Faith!" and as appears to unmistakably be the case now, the Air Force is planning to re-attack the undermanned officer year group that saw 157 majors booted after nearly two decades of service.

Well played Air Force.  Well played.