Air Force officials announce manpower force structure changes

Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

3/6/2012 - WASHINGTON -- Air Force officials released force structure changes and resulting manpower impacts from the new DoD strategic guidance and fiscal 2013 President's Budget March 6.

The fiscal 2013 President's Budget adjusts Air Force military end strength to 501,000, with net reductions of 3,900 Active Duty, 5,100 Air National Guard and 900 Air Force Reserve billets.

Hanscom AFB will face a total reduction of 55 active duty military positions. The majority of those, 43, belong to the Band of Liberty, which will be stood down as part of a larger Air Force band consolidation effort (see accompanying article). The other significant reductions are 11 associated with creation of the consolidated Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. There are some other small gains and losses related to program adjustments factored in, as well.

According to the Air Force Chief of Staff, the Air Force's strategy is to apply resources to the people, programs and systems that will best contribute to the new DoD strategic guidance.

"Working with our Guard and Reserve leaders, we used a balanced approach to adjust our Total Force end strength while maintaining the ability to execute strategic guidance," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said. "Our Total Force programmed reductions follow detailed assessments of future conflict scenarios and rotational requirements consistent with the new strategic guidance."

The Air Force is also announcing manpower changes on unit manpower documents resulting from the previously announced force structure reduction of 227 aircraft as well as additional adjustments not tied to aircraft. These changes primarily include the inactivation of a combat communications group and several air control squadrons, as well as right-sizing Air Force bands.

"We made a deliberate decision to avoid a 'hollow force' by prioritizing readiness over force structure," Schwartz said. "A smaller, ready force is preferable to a larger force that is ill-prepared because it lacks adequate resources."

"To prepare for the FY13 end strength reductions, the Air Force is evaluating the entire suite of currently authorized force management programs to determine which ones will best size and shape the force to support force structure changes," explained William Booth, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Force Management Integration. "We plan to announce additional FY12 programs for the active component in the coming weeks, but neither the Air National Guard nor Air Force Reserve currently has force management programs scheduled for FY12 implementation."

Booth said all components are exploring force management options for fiscal 2013.

"As the Air Force takes steps to reduce our end strength, we will offer support programs to help separating Airmen translate their military skills into the private sector and facilitate the transition in a way that capitalizes on the tremendous experience in technical fields and leadership that they develop while serving," Booth said.

Schwartz emphasized the tough decisions required in the fiscal 2013 President's Budget request.

"In this economy we had to make difficult choices to align with the new strategic guidance and with the cuts required by the Budget Control Act over the next 10 years," Schwartz said. "Finding the proper balance between force structure, readiness, activity levels and modernization was essential."

The Air Force determined the best course of action is to trade force size for quality.

"We will become smaller in order to preserve a high-quality and ready force, one that will continue to modernize and grow more capable in the future," Schwartz said.