In the wake of a major leadership
shakeup in the United States Air Force (the top military and civilian leaders
were fired, and the new military leader is not a fighter pilot), the U.S.
Secretary of Defense ordered that the air force halt its downsizing program.
downsizing has been going on since 2005. Last year 852 lieutenants received
letters that they were likely to lose their jobs by this Summer. In the last
two years, about 2,000 lieutenants have been similarly dismissed. The air force
was reorganizing and downsizing, and that included the junior officers who are
usually immune to such cuts. The air force planned to cut their strength by
5,400 personnel this fiscal year (which began last October). This downsizing
has been going on since 2005.
force has long been accused (by members of the other services) of operating
more like a corporation than a military operation. That's a little harsh,
because the air force is the most tech minded of the services, and has always
taken the lead in adapting commercial innovations to military use.
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. Unlike previous years, when many troops were fired, most of the
reduction this year is from retirement and people not re-enlisting. There are
now higher standards for re-enlisting, which improves the overall quality of
the force. Only about 12 percent of the reductions this year were to be
involuntary, and all those would be officers. There will still be a lot of
enlisted personnel, in surplus jobs, who will be retrained. Each active duty
airman costs the air force over $100,000 a year. The money saved will go
towards purchasing more technology.More
Air Force has fewer people on active duty today, 334,000, than at any other
time in its history. However, if you add in reservists (181,000), strength is a
bit higher than it was when the air force was formed (from the U.S. Army Air
Force) in 1948. The air force also has slightly more officers on active duty
today (65,000) than it did in 1948, but that's a reflection of the growing
importance of technology. Air Force personnel today have much more education
than they did sixty years ago, and that is reflected in higher pay and, on
average, higher rank.
Secretary of Defense was addressing, by halting the downsizing, was a personnel
policy that was sending some types of air force troops overseas again and
again, while many other hardly went at all. There were many complaints from the
officers and airmen spending all that time overseas (many since 1991, to patrol
the Iraq "no-fly" zone). But air force brass largely ignored the
complaints,believing that there were so
many people trying to get in, or stay in, the air force, that they could just
tell the troops to suck it up. The new air force management is taking this in a
different direction. That means that the old air force plan, of shedding
personnel so they could buy more new F-22s and F-35s, will also be dropped.