Civilians have dreams of doing something worthwhile with their lives. It’s natural, and definitely encouraged. However, if you were thinking of joining the United States Air Force, it may not be possible now.
If you’re not aware of the cutbacks the U.S. Air Force has undergone over the past few years, it has been quite significant. According to the Air Force Personnel Center, in January, 2013, the military branch released a memo which authorized a force-wide civilian hire freeze.
To elaborate, during this freeze, all civilian potentials were no longer eligible for hire on U.S. Air Force bases, period — regardless of credentials or any advantages they could bring to the force. The source notes that civilian pay approximates to a large portion of the Air Force’s operating budget. Yet, nevertheless, this decision didn’t affect those who were already employed.
“The temporary hiring freeze applies to all positions that are open to applicants outside the Air Force for permanent, temporary and term vacancies in all appropriations, according to the memo. Reassignments and promotions within the current work force will continue because they do not affect the current force size.”
However, at the same time on the military side of things, people were being involuntarily separated from the military. Some were discharged due to disciplinary reasons — when under normal circumstances, such an extreme decision wouldn’t have been made.
— MSU Wichitan Online (@WichitanOnline) October 28, 2015
And it still seems to happen. Air Force Times reports that, earlier this year, approximately 10,000 airmen were on the verge of being escorted to the metaphorical chopping block. The United States Air Force has asked for a certain amount of financial backing from Congress. Likewise, the source mentions that, if Congress doesn’t give this military branch the total amount requested, the force would have to eliminate $10 billion from its budget within a year’s time. Unfortunately for military personnel, that would mean the aforementioned terminations.
— U.S. Air Force (@usairforce) October 22, 2015
Right now, U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James says that the branch is the smallest it’s ever been — aside from when it initially started, of course. It’s approximately 485,000 personnel, total. This potential cutback would knock it down to a mere 475,000 members across the board — whether active duty, reserve, or guardsmen. Secretary James says that this particular military branch has had enough, and it has gone as low as it can go. She notes, “There is nothing more straining than the downsizing we’re going through.”
Also, the source mentions, as follows, that Major General James Martin strongly opposes the potential downsize.
“Further reductions would leave us with a team that has an incomplete roster, that is too small to meet a demanding schedule, and allows little time to practice and provides no down time. Our airmen deserve better than that…
“… Before we made any final decisions, we’d have to know what the actual BCA [Budget Control Act] funding levels were. Then we would go back and we’d look across all five core mission sets and make sure that we’re meeting the most urgent requirements that — that are expected out of the Air Force.”
Alongside him, Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh added that he believes the Air Force is “getting too small to succeed” rather than “too big to fail.” In January, he mentioned that the force is severely undermanned in various career fields. This is because personnel have been cross-trained to fit into other fields in need of manpower — leaving other fields lacking.
It seems that things are so dire the U.S. Air Force is giving the opportunity for prior servicemen to re-enlist.
Via a recent Facebook post from less than 24 hours ago, as seen below, it appears that the branch is advertising for more manpower. It’s possible that Congress approved their budget request.
The advertisement quotes as follows.
“Air Force Accepting Prior Service Applicants: ‘Have you previously served as an enlisted member in the Air Force or other branch of the U.S. military? If so and you were honorably discharged and have been out of the services for less than six years, you may be eligible to serve in the U.S. Air Force. We are currently seeking individuals to serve in their previous job or to possibly retrain’.”
It also notes that those who are interested should access the FY16 “Prior Service Direct to Duty” list, in order to see the jobs requested.
It’s quite an extensive list. Do you think you’ll qualify? If interested, you can always view the list and weigh your options. Given the U.S. Air Force’s recent shortcomings, there’s honestly no telling how much longer the opportunity will be available.
What are your thoughts? Feel free to share them in the comments below.