2007 Force Shaping message released

WASHINGTON -- Air Force officials recently announced new force-shaping initiatives to be used to meet the required 2007 fiscal year end strength numbers.

The new initiatives are designed to bring the Officer numbers down as the enlisted end-strength numbers are on target for 2007. Officials said more than 8,000 officers must separate either through normal attrition, retirement or force shaping measures to achieve the required balance in force.

"It's important to keep in mind what force shaping is all about; the present and future state of the Air Force," Lt. Gen. Roger A. Brady, Deputy Chief of Staff, Manpower and Personnel. "We have to balance our (force) for now and the coming years to have the kind of force we need to win the long war we are in now and be prepared for whatever comes next."

The Air Force will look for volunteers but will also initiate involuntary shaping programs to achieve a balanced force. The force-shaping program maximizes the Air Force's voluntary separation authority and also allows implementation for involuntary shaping programs as required.

The Air Force starts the 2007 force-shaping program with three tools to lower the number of active duty officers. These three initiatives are Voluntary Separation Pay (VSP), Selective Early Retirement Board (SERB), and a fiscal 2007 Force Shaping Board (FSB). Under U.S. Code Title 10, the Secretary of the Air Force has authority to use these force-shaping tools.

The VSP incentive will be offered to Line of the Air Force officers (including Judge Advocates), and Chaplains with more than six and no more than exactly 12 years of service to encourage their separation, General Brady said.

The Air Force needs approximately 3,200 officers meeting these criteria to separate. Eligible officers may begin applying for VSP on July 31, 2006. Dates of separation must take effect between Oct. 1 2006 and Sep. 29, 2007. Applications for VSP will not be accepted after Jan. 31, 2007.

Officers who are approved for VSP will enter into a written agreement to serve in the Individual Ready Reserve for a period of three years following the separation. Officers that have an existing military service obligation at the time of their separation will fulfill it in the IRR along with the additional three-year commitment. Officers meeting the above time-in-service criteria may contact their MPF for more details on VSP.

"We are offering the qualified VSP officers twice the compensation of what they would receive for an involuntary separation," General Brady said.

The Air Force seeks to retire 313 line officer lieutenant colonels that have been twice deferred for promotion or colonels with four years time in grade that are not general selects. Officers that have a voluntary retirement date or a mandatory retirement date for length of service will not be considered.

The Air Force must plan for a SERB for 2007 to meet this shaping objective.

"The officers that fit this category have already been notified," he said. "If we get enough volunteers for retirement, we will not hold the SERB."

A SERB has been scheduled for Jan. 8-19 2007. More detailed information about the SERB will be released in September.

The Air Force will also hold a fiscal year 2007 FSB. This board will evaluate officers who have not completed more than five years commissioned service. The board will consider officers in selected, overage career fields in the 2003 and 2004-year groups. However, for the 2003-year group, the board will only consider those career fields that were excluded from consideration from the fiscal 2006 FSB.

The Air Force projects more than 900 losses as a result of the 2007 FSB, which is scheduled for March 12-23 2007.

Another tool the Air Force uses to balance the force is recruitment.

"In Force Shaping, we will lose some very talented people. But the reduction in size is also about losing manpower authorizations to help get the right number of people with dynamic skill sets," General Brady said. "We will be bringing in about 3,000 less enlisted and 500 less officers this year through accessions."

By recruiting less into the Air Force, this eases the burden of having to get rid of quality individuals, he said.

"One thing we don't want people to lose sight of is we do not like the fact that we're going to lose these people," General Brady said. "These are talented young folks with a great work ethic and the kind of people we feel will land on their feet and do well."

This new Force Shaping message supercedes prior messages. Other Force Shaping programs such as "Blue to Green," Palace Chase, Career Job Reservation (for enlisted) and Enlisted Retraining Program are still in effect.

For more information on the force shaping initiatives visit the AFPC web site at http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/retsep/forceshaping/shape.htm.