As the outlook on our economy remains grim, and as top Air Force officials are forced to comply with current budgetary restraints, a total of 25,000 Airmen and civilians will be axed over the next five years. As the largest drawdown in the Air Force’s history ramps up, projecting an estimated $35 million a year in savings (Svan, 2012), Airmen are met with tough decisions, a bleak economy, and dwindling confidence in their job security.
“Complex strategies are rarely perfect from their inception, but evolve as new information and feedback allows them to be refined and improved,” said Lt. Gen Sam Cox, the deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services (Losey, 2014). The Air Force has currently halted its massive force-shaping programs to re-evaluate them, leaving many Airmen frustrated. One Airman, Rick Clark, is skeptical about this sudden halt in the program, especially since he can’t accept a job offer until his early retirement paperwork is processed. “Companies won’t wait while the AF powers-that-be jerk us around, so all they’re doing is costing us jobs,” said Clark (Losey, 2014). Under normal circumstances, Airmen could separate early under a number of programs, like the Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA), for example.
At a breakfast on March 11, Undersecretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning addressed the frustrations and concerns voiced by several Airmen. “I think certainly there’s a lot of angst out there about what the future holds for the Air Force and for individual airmen,” said Fanning. Further adding that, “if we’re going to send them into harm’s way, we’re going to send them with the best equipment and [readiness] we can. So having a balance between your capacity, your capability and your readiness is an important commitment to airmen (Losey, 2014).”
With force reductions in effect, many employers are seeking out highly qualified military personnel. Col. Barry Cornish, commander of Nellis Air Force Base, expects that the 400 Airmen leaving his base will be in high demand. “Every city is going to be competing for these talented airmen…it could be a win-win both for the military installations that are drawing down and those economies that are looking to absorb this very skilled workforce,” he said (Quine, 2014).