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Officers to possibly face RIF

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- The Air Force will hold a Reduction in Force board for officers with six to 12 years of service if force shaping goals are not met.

"While the goal has been to reduce active-duty end strength through voluntary programs where possible, if at the end of the extended Voluntary Separation Pay application window the (fiscal year) 2007 goal has not been reached, the remaining losses will be achieved through an officer RIF board in June 2007," said Lt. Gen. Roger A. Brady, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel.

"Those who are not eligible for the VSP are not susceptible to the RIF," said Maj. Jackie Bieker, 314th Airlift Wing Military Personnel Flight commander. "Commanders should have an honest, frank discussion with their officers on the reality of promotion and retention in the Air Force."

The MPF commander also said more details would be coming out in early February, but encouraged all officers to review the Air Force Personnel Center's Website to review a list of potential overage career fields.

"The current Involuntary Separation Pay is half of the current Voluntary Separation Pay being offered," Major Bieker said recommending officers should check the AFPC Website for rates.

"The window for officers to voluntarily separate was extended from January 31 to March 31, 2007," Major Bieker said.

As of Dec. 28, the service had approved just over 1,800 applicants for the program. Officers seeking more information about VSP can call the Air Force Personnel Center contact center at 800-616-3775, or visit its web site.

General Brady said the RIF board would consider Air Force officers with six to 12 years of active commissioned service in overage career fields from six year groups: 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001. The RIF board process is expected to achieve approximately 1,000 officer reductions. Officers not selected for retention will be separated by Jan. 29, 2008.

"Officers meeting a promotion board during this time are not eligible," the major said.

Force shaping is not simply about reducing numbers, however. The Air Force will also ensure that it has the right number of officers and enlisted, with the right rank, in the right career fields.

"The Air Force is in transition and we must focus on optimizing our force structure," General Brady said. "Through voluntary separations, attrition, adjustments to accessions, retraining, and a RIF board, we can ensure we have the number of officers we need, in the right career fields, and with the right level of expertise. I encourage all commanders to conduct frank discussions with their officers concerning their vulnerability for the RIF board."

In 2004, the Air Force had 372,000 active-duty Airmen. Today, the service has about 347,300. Through force shaping, the goal is to reduce that number by another 31,000 to about 316,000 by fiscal year 2009. In fiscal year 2007 alone, the Air Force has over 5,500 projected officer losses (about 70 percent of the goal) and 16,500 projected enlisted losses (almost 50 percent of the goal). These losses reflect the combination of targeted force shaping and normal attrition, which total over 30,000 each year. Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez contributed to this story.
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