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Personnel leader briefs 'Rock' warriors on changes, issues

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- Before a standing room only crowd at the base theater, Mr. Roger Blanchard, Air Force assistant deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel, briefed men and women of the Rock Feb. 6 about the top personnel issues affecting the Air Force.

"These are dynamic and challenging times," said Mr. Blanchard. "You're living transformation everyday," he said stating that these changes will affect each Airman in a personal way.

More than 500 men and women gathered for "the rare opportunity to talk to us frankly, one on one," said Brig. Gen. Kip Self, 314th Airlift Wing Commander

The Air Force priorities right now are most important according to Mr. Blanchard. Those priorities are Fighting and winning the Global War on Terrorism; developing and caring for our Airmen and modernizing and recapitalizing our aircraft and equipment. Little Rock AFB is home to many of the Air Force's oldest and most heavily deployed C-130s in the Air Force.

And to meet or exceed those priorities, Mr. Blanchard said the Air Force is changing the way Airmen do business.

"We're going to do this by funding change through the way we operate; we're going to reduce legacy systems and create more efficient ways to deliver services," the personnel veteran of more than 30 years said.

"People are expensive--and getting more expensive," Mr. Blanchard said. "Personnel costs have increased 51percent over the last 10 years, but the number of people has remained relatively constant."

By 2013, the Air Force will have to shed approximately 43,000 Airmen through personnel reduction programs like the Reduction in Force board, Force Shaping, etc... he said in his briefing.

"We're trying to do this to the greatest extent possible on a voluntary basis," he said referring to several voluntary separation programs currently underway like offering officers with six to 12 years of service the option to voluntarily separate from the Air Force with pay.

But a smaller force won't just be smaller, it will be smarter, quicker and more responsive he said.

"The force will not only be reduced, it will be shaped for content," he said. "We'll get the right skill sets for the right missions."

"We're an Air Force at war," he reminded the crowd. "The difficult decisions we make today will ensure tomorrow's Air Force will be as good as or better than today's."

"This is a prudent strategy; it's not easy, it contains hard decisions, but it's the right thing to do for the 21st century Air Force."

Mr. Blanchard is responsible for comprehensive plans and policies covering all life cycles of military and civilian personnel management, including military and civilian end strength management, education and training, and compensation and resource allocation, according to his official Air Force biography.
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