The U.S. Air Force separation pay
program, which offered a cash payment to officers, in overstaffed jobs, who
would voluntarily resign, came up about 322 volunteers short. So about 1,200
captains and majors, with between six and 12 years of service, are in jobs that
will face 322 pink slips. The separation pay program sought to get 3,200
officers to resign, and was about 90 percent effective. The air force and navy
are downsizing in response to the impact of technology, outsourcing and
automation, in a process similar to that faced by many civilian firms.
The army and marine corps, however, are increasing
their strength by about 60,000 troops, compared to the 70,000 being cut by the
other services. The army tried to get some of the departing air force and navy
personnel to transfer over, but only a few thousand took them up on that offer.
Each service has a different "culture," and the army and Marine Corps are seen
as much rougher, dangerous, and less comfortable places to be. Among the
services, the air force is seen as particularly plush, although demanding in
terms of education and technical skills. Although nearly half the navy
personnel are assigned to ships, these are at sea less than six months a year.
Moreover, sea duty isn't as unpleasant as dodging bullets and roadside bombs in
Iraq or Afghanistan.