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Security forces hardest hit as Air Force plans to cut 23,263 this year

Feb. 3, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Airmen patrol outside to protect inside
Enlisted security forces airmen could be hit hardest out of all career fields. (Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller/Air Force)
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The Air Force is planning to cut 23,263 airmen this year alone through its massive force management programs, and on the chopping block is 15 percent of security forces airmen.

According to internal documents the Air Force provided at Air Force Times’ request, 18,336 enlisted airmen and 4,927 officers are in career fields that are overmanned and will be cut through voluntary or involuntary measures.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh has repeatedly said that the steep budget cuts known as the sequester would force the service to cut up to 25,000 airmen over the next five years. But the new charts are the first indication that the bulk of those cuts will come this year.

In a Jan. 30 interview, Chief Master Sgt. Stephen White, the enlisted career field manager for security forces, confirmed that the identified cuts are planned to come in fiscal 2014.

“The Air Force is looking at making the cuts all at once,” White said. “Why do this to people every year? It’s painful, but we go through the major set of cuts this year, and airmen don’t have to worry about next year and next year.”

The chart on the involuntary enlisted retention boards identifies 3,992 senior airmen, staff sergeants, technical sergeants and master sergeants in security forces — 15 percent of the total 26,216 in that career field — that are overmanned and likely to be cut. And in two charts on officer reduction-in-force and force shaping boards, 130 security forces officers are also identified as being overmanned and slated for cuts.

In a Jan. 24 Facebook post, Brig. Gen. Allen Jamerson, the director of security forces, said that the quality force reduction board cuts could drive enlisted cuts up to 5,000.

“These will be stressful times and there is not much I can say that will make any of this better,” Jamerson said. “I’m concerned for two reasons: first, this means many of you will not be able to serve much longer, and it means a significant change in the way we protect our people and AF assets. [Today is a] tough day across the Air Force.”

Already stretched

However, White said security forces officials have been talking to Welsh and other top Air Force officials about what cuts of that magnitude could mean for the service’s security. He expects the enlisted security forces cuts will be revised down to about 2,500. White did not know if the officer cuts would be revised.

Cuts of 4,000 to 5,000 security forces would have serious effects, White said. Roughly 2,500 security forces airmen are deployed around the world at any given time, he said, and reducing their ranks is not an option. Some missions, such as guarding nuclear weapons facilities, also cannot be cut, White said.

That means the security forces cuts would fall on other Air Force bases and installations around the United States, which would see considerable reductions in their security. That could mean reducing the number of law enforcement patrols, White said.

The Air Force could also be forced to rely more on local law enforcement, White said. Many bases now have memorandums of understanding with local sheriff’s departments or police departments to provide law enforcement on off-base housing, for example. The Air Force could have to renegotiate those agreements to receive more support.

White said that security forces are already stretched when groups of airmen transition to and from deployments. There is some overlap when a new group of security forces airmen deploy, and then the returning airmen require a few weeks off to rest and reconnect with their families. Those periods already put considerable strain on security forces, and the significant reductions that are in the works will worsen matters, he said.

Other hard-hit fields

It’s not just security forces facing significant cuts. The charts identify 172 enlisted career fields and 32 officer fields that have at least some overmanning that will be cut.

In the materiel management career field, 490 airmen — almost 8 percent of its total force — are slated to be cut. The pavements and construction equipment field will lose 420 airmen, or 21 percent of its total force.

The RF transmission spectrum career field will lose 616 airmen, or almost 17 percent. And 689 aircraft armament systems airmen — 10 percent of its force — will be cut, as will 520 munitions system airmen, or 8 percent. And 15 percent of the fuels career field, or 528 enlisted airmen, will be cut.

And a chart on the enhanced selective early retirement board, or E-SERB, which was obtained by Air Force Times after this article was originally posted, said that the biomedical sciences corps category is overmanned by 72 majors, the medical service corps is overmanned by 77 majors, and the nurse corps is overmanned by 92 majors. Another newly obtained chart said that 11 biomedical sciences corps lieutenant colonels are vulnerable to the E-SERB, although not all of them will be cut, and the chart did not say how overmanned each year group is. The original numbers posted with this article have been revised to reflect the new information.

A third new chart detailed 520 overmanned first lieutenants and captains in the biomedical sciences corps, dental corps, medical services corps and nurse corps categories that will be cut this year through force shaping boards.

The Air Force Personnel Center said the numbers in the charts, which were dated Jan. 23, are subject to change and are updated periodically, but not weekly. AFPC also said the numbers are for general information and that airmen should get specific details from their military personnel section or AFPC, and that each airman must confirm his actual eligibility by contacting his unit leadership and military personnel section.

Airmen frustrated

Airmen across the service are growing angry and scared as they learn how massive and swift the cuts will be — especially some who have served multiple deployments at war.

“There’s no loyalty,” said one security forces officer who asked that his name and rank not be printed. “I did three deployments, I have gone through a divorce because of how much I’ve been gone. After all that we’ve done, and given, and sacrificed, the reward is a separation paycheck?”

The officer said that he and his friends are frustrated, because they don’t know if they’ll still have jobs in six months and they wish the Air Force was telling them more on what the various boards will be considering.

And morale is plunging, he said.

“I know on my side, everybody’s pinging off each other,” he said. “Everybody’s asking how does this affect you, what have you heard, what do you know? I feel like they’re leaving us out of the loop.”

White said he understands the officer’s frustrations, but budget cuts are forcing the service to make painful decisions.

“We owe it to them to ensure that we do everything we can to take care of them, as best as we can,” White said. “But with the reality of budget constraints, we have to get down to our end strength. We definitely appreciate everything they’ve done. Less than 1 percent of Americans have served, so we want to honor them. We’re trying to do the best we can.”

White said he and other officials are starting to travel to bases to talk to airmen about the cuts and answer their questions. He said he spoke with about 80 airmen for three hours Jan. 28 at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

“I look out on their faces, and I [see] concern,” he said. “Most of those guys and gals are young, and they started families, and now they’re worried about the future. So I get it. We’re going to Montana and other places starting next week, out on the road. Our goal here is to try to break the program down, so they can understand their options, and understand realistically how they would fare if we do have retention boards.”

Voluntary cuts preferred

Air Force officials have frequently said they hope to achieve most of their force cuts through voluntary measures, such as 15-year retirements, voluntary separation payments, time-in-grade and active- duty service commitment waivers, and an expanded Palace Chase program allowing airmen to serve out the rest of their careers in the Guard or Reserve.

White said he thinks many senior airmen and staff sergeants in the security forces ranks are likely to take the voluntary separation measures. But he thinks the Air Force will probably have to use involuntary boards to separate enough security forces tech sergeants and master sergeants to meet its new requirements.

But the prospect of facing a future outside of the Air Force scares the security forces officer.

“This is the only life I’ve known,” he said.

TARGETED FOR SEPARATION: ENLISTED

Enlisted career fields, by rank, with the number of overmanned positions and number of airmen in those positions vulnerable to being separated by a retention board: Key: O = Overage, V = Vulnerable

The Air Force Personnel Center said the numbers in the charts, which were dated Jan. 23, are subject to change and are updated periodically, but not weekly. AFPC also said the numbers are for general information and that airmen should get specific details from their military personnel section or AFPC, and that each airman must confirm his actual eligibility by contacting his unit leadership and military personnel section.

AFSC E-4 E-5 E-6 E-7 E-8 E-9 AFSC %
O V O V O V O V O V O V overage
1A0x1 2 132 0.2
1A100 3 12 14.3
1A1x1 60 263 102 208 41 96 19
1A2x1 105 69 179 483 10.8
1A300; 1A400 5 12 22.7
1A3x1; 1A4x1 40 79 54 325 44 216 14 59 6 25 7.7
1A6x1 27 55 11 21 3 2 * * 16.9
1A800 * * 0
1A900 1 7 6.3
1A9x1 65 253 * * 3 44 7.4
1C0x2 73 91 31 282 6.3
1C100 * * 0
1C1x1 36 267 116 452 4.2
1C300 11 21 35.5
1C3x1 33 93 1 30 2
1C6x1 18 106 7 30 5 17 2.7
1C7x1 44 57 5.3
1N0x1 123 138 * * 12 364 11 61 4.4
1N1x1A 83 127 * * * * 2.6
1N2x1C 48 56 3 215 2.6
1P000 3 11 14.3
1P0x1 43 49 4 24 2.1
1S000 1 3 14.3
1S0x1 * * 33 83 9.3
1U0x1 60 52 211 330 118 117 33.1
1W000 2 16 8.7
2A090 3 13 9.7
2A0x1K 15 42 4 61 3 33 9 15 8
2A0x1M 14 42 8
2A0x1P 15 34 14 30 26 21 8
2A2x1 28 44 19 105 6.2
2A2x2 2 32 4 11 1.3
2A373 41 161 0.7
AFSC E-4 E-5 E-6 E-7 E-8 E-9 AFSC %
O V O V O V O V O V O V overage
2A374 30 44 1.3
2A3x3E 111 49 170 216 6.3
2A3x3L 105 146 3 324 6.3
2A3x4A 76 39 75 90 8
2A3x4B 34 52 8
2A3x5A 35 38 6.6
2A3x5C 36 21 6.6
2A3x7A 33 65 28 166 5
2A3x8B 20 5 41 40 10.4
2A500 1 94 0.2
2A571 14 206 0.9
2A5x1B 48 208 0.9
2A5x1C * * 0.9
2A5x1D * * 0.9
2A5x4A 25 171 * * 1.1
2A5x4B * * 1.1
2A5x4E 32 41 1.1
2A600 16 83 13.3
2A671G 13 459 127 134 4.4
2A690 20 60 4.4
2A691 10 31 4.4
2A6x1C 24 378 4.4
2A6x1H 19 117 46 24 4.4
2A6x2 64 155 162 609 101 272 170 155 12 29 14.2
2A6x3 20 23 3.1
2A6x4 43 156 54 49 5.1
2A6x5 40 366 41 84 3.9
2A6x6 34 573 43 343 90 107 4.7
2A7x1 34 176 24 82 29 19 10.1
2A7x2 1 129 29 53 29 14 8.1
2A7x3 37 468 105 214 34 52 7.6
2A7x5 20 164 53 90 9.4
2A871E 13 17 2.8
2A872E 12 32 2.7
2A8x1B 12 73 2.7
2A8x1F 4 6 2 20 2.7
2A8x1G * * 2.7
2A8x2B 5 66 2.7
2A8x2C 10 18 2.7
2A8x2F 2 2 2.7
AFSC E-4 E-5 E-6 E-7 E-8 E-9 AFSC %
O V O V O V O V O V O V overage
2A9x1A 8 13 3
2A9x1E 10 5 3
2A9x1G 1 14 3
2A9x2A 1 8 0.2
2A9x2D * * 0.2
2A9x3A 12 15 8 33 2.6
2A9x3C 6 7 2.6
2A9x3H * * 2.6
2F0x1 209 613 217 286 94 127 8 31 15
2G000 2 8 20
2G0x1 6 38 68 173 9.4
2M0x1 17 37 44 131 21 61 9.6
2M0x2 4 18 14 84 7 34 4.5
2P0x1 77 72 33 143 47 74 17.9
2R000 2 10 4.1
2R1x1 18 35 10 129 3.7
2S000 2 40 3.4
2S0x1 51 1,190 318 612 121 237 7.6
2T0x1 50 137 38 63 5.2
2T100 3 14 14.3
2T1x1 158 173 84 78 1 18 10.9
2T2x1 26 834 157 364 88 139 10 30 6.2
2T370 216 286 97 83 40.4
2T390 1 20 40.4
2T3x2C 2 75 0.4
2T3x7 10 27 1 88 2.2
2W000 * * 0
2W0x1 158 1,198 250 536 96 198 16 47 8
2W100 3 36 5.5
2W1x1 168 1,136 291 572 212 169 18 48 10.7
2W2x1 34 44 5 82 1 62 6 17 1 7 6.3
3D000 11 78 2.8
3D0x1 309 181 45 762 41 261 8.3
3D0x2 11 164 36 135 1
3D0x3 6 49 0.4
3D0x4 2 24 0.4
3D100 3 59 0.8
3D1x1 17 265 126 89 4.6
3D1x2 33 134 10 862 66 465 81 141 4
3D1x3 243 202 232 660 74 306 67 100 16.8
AFSC E-4 E-5 E-6 E-7 E-8 E-9 AFSC %
O V O V O V O V O V O V overage
3D1x4 9 31 8
3D1x5 56 41 19 79 4 69 6 18 13.1
3D1x6 81 48 48 125 33 80 24 22 22.8
3D1x7 4 31 32 129 9 44 14 15 9.5
3E0x1 43 100 61 278 14 139 54 32 11.6
3E0x2 61 79 62 211 51 127 40 37 15.4
3E1x1 76 115 109 273 41 120 34 39 16.9
3E2x1 127 155 180 385 84 164 29 21 21.4
3E3x1 74 126 158 348 74 148 34 34 18.4
3E490 7 28 12.1
3E4x1 64 126 86 289 70 144 39 46 16.5
3E4x3 6 38 2 18 5 6 6.2
3E5x1 29 31 3.1
3E6x1 25 21 * * 5
3E700 * * 0
3E7x1 106 533 32 217 57 47 6.1
3E900 1 4 11.1
3E9x1 10 133 1.4
3M0x1 65 145 84 655 97 280 31 115 4 38 7.7
3N0x5 16 24 18 142 4.2
3N191 2 5 11.9
3N1x1 18 37 33 22 11.9
3N200 * * * * 0
3N2x1 7 64 4.1
3P000 8 75 6.8
3P0x1 1,555 1,315 1,083 3,188 950 1,482 397 414 7 103 15.2
3S0x1 30 188 0.7
3S100 * * 0
3S1x1 11 37 4 31 9.1
3S2x1 77 57 7.9
3S3x3 13 84 29 120 8.8
4A0x1 22 485 85 208 17 68 1 27 4.9
4A100 3 5 37.5
4A1x1 4 28 54 196 40 72 9 22 2 7 11.3
4A200 1 2 14.3
4A2x1 6 17 10 102 10 54 9 17 1 4 6.8
4B000 * * 0
4B0x1 10 25 57 192 64 105 25 24 * * 15.8
4C000 * * 0
4D000 * * 0
AFSC E-4 E-5 E-6 E-7 E-8 E-9 AFSC %
O V O V O V O V O V O V overage
4D0x1 11 5 23 45 18 10 5 8 21.7
4.00E+00 1 3 12.5
4E0x1 16 38 49 246 38 99 11 29 1 13 9.2
4H0x1 2 24 0.6
4J000 * * 0
4J0x2 8 11 8 46 6 34 13 11 13.1
4J0x2A 5 0 3 2 13.1
4M0x1 17 51 7 34 6 9 1 1 11.2
4N000 1 15 2.9
4N071 * * 162 139 2.9
4N0x1C 10 107 15 28 2.9
4N1x1C 4 11 3 11 1.6
4N1x1D 2 6 2 3 1.6
4P000 1 3 16.7
4P0x1 25 35 7 133 43 83 27 19 5 8 12.6
4R000 * * 15.8
4R090 3 9 15.8
4R0x1 44 50 11 88 21 17 12.8
4R0x1A 1 9 5 1 12.8
4R0x1B 23 26 8 2 12.8
AFSC E-4 E-5 E-6 E-7 E-8 E-9 AFSC %
O V O V O V O V O V O V overage
4R0x1C 3 1 12.8
4T000 1 3 3.7
4T090 * * 3.7
4T0x1 22 38 31 153 28 98 25 38 10.3
4V000 * * 0
4V0x1 13 7 3 1 6.8
4Y0x1 32 307 83 119 50 41 9.7
4Y0x2 6 30 6 22 2.9
5J000 2 9 13.3
5J0x1 13 127 4 48 1.9
5R0x1 55 70 15.9
6C000 3 7 21.4
6C0x1 20 107 30 336 20 223 3.6
6F0x1 97 105 82 305 18 190 10 79 1 32 9.3
7S000 4 6 3.6
7S0x1 65 62 10 16 7.4
8F0x0 10 15 0.9
9S1x0 1 4 0.2

*not vulnerable to the retention board, but eligible for voluntary early retirement or separation.

TARGETED FOR SEPARATION: OFFICER

Officer career fields, by year group, with the number of overmanned positions and number of officers in those positions vulnerable to being separated by a RIF or force shaping board (Officers in 2004 year group not affected): Key: O = Overage, V = Vulnerable

72 majors in the biomedical sciences corps category from year groups 2001 to 2003, 77 medical service corps majors from year groups 2001 to 2004, and 92 nurse corps majors from year groups 1997 to 2001 are also overmanned, and many could be cut through an enhanced selective early retirement board, or E-SERB. Another E-SERB will consider 11 biomedical sciences corps lieutenant colonels from 1989 to 1994.

The Air Force Personnel Center said the numbers in the charts, which were dated Jan. 23, are subject to change and are updated periodically, but not weekly. AFPC also said the numbers are for general information and that airmen should get specific details from their military personnel section or AFPC, and that each airman must confirm his actual eligibility by contacting his unit leadership and military personnel section.

RIF Boards Force Shaping Board
AFSC 2001 2002 2003 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 AFSC %
O V O V O V O V O V O V O V O V O V O V overage
11B 2 41 7 58 2 47 7 62 7 67 3.9
11M 13 257 30 304 18 342 84 466 69 468 84 506 52 435 8
11R 21 57 17 47 23 61 20 58 22 59 26 77 21 57 15.3
11S 2 84 12 131 8 101 3 71 2.1
12B 1 39 9 49 9 49 6 42 3.6
12M 9 16 9 13 17 27 15 17 15 19 15 20 20 23 26.7
12R 3 45 6 44 3 38 13 40 13 36 4 27 8 37 6.7
12S 4 43 3 33 3 39 11 66 4 37 3.8
13B 34 63 26 79 9 64 6 74 30 117 20 105 8.5
13M 19 5 10 7 5 7 2 13 1 12 2 15 6 18 17.4
13N 14 23 13 26 11 28 10 37 13 45 27 62 14 53 10.2
13S 31 51 37 51 13 55 21 71 39 101 8.3
14N 36 95 19 92 50 215 110 270 50 240 9
15W 12 19 15 17 4 14 3 28 4 33 1 35 8.1
17D 77 54 58 54 23 57 23 110 9 114 26 140 8.8
21A 41 15 26 12 11 36 5 55 8 58 23 82 29 87 17 85 13.8
21M 13 4 12 8 4 10 1 13 1 13 5 19 11 25 15.6
21R 55 45 36 35 15 33 1 47 9 50 15 75 18 78 38 98 25 104 16.2
31P 28 22 16 17 15 29 11 28 9 31 10 36 22 50 19 57 20
32E 11 38 17 44 26 57 15 49 20 60 27 71 7 55 31 88 12 75 2 79 15.3
35P 12 7 2 7 2 9 13 25 3 17 14 32 2 22 17.4
38P 50 36 41 24 30 35 9 49 12 59 21 70 8 64 25 91 33 107 5 91 17
61A 2 16 12 26 7 24 10 24 6 25 7 29 13 34 5 33 15.9
61B 4 4 3 4 4 7 7 9 1 5 7 11 9 14 14 20 7 14 51.4
61C 1 3 2 4 3 4 3 5 1 4 2 5 4 8 2 8 25.7
61D 1 8 1 8 6 13 2 12 3 9 3 13 6 17 8 18 4 19 19.1
62E 37 105 51 131 83 166 111 194 83 189 118 236 103 228 103 245 82 248 86 279 33.5
63A 23 65 41 77 16 70 3.8
64P 10 14 5 14 7 20 2 37 3 43 26 65 8 65 8.8
65X 15 11 12 7 3 15 9 26 3 26 2 28 8 31 13 45 1 37 10.6
71S 15 14 10 9 3 12 4 11 9 23 2 16 6 24 15.7
LAF-J* 21 62 22 65 53 108 54 116 28 101 12.8

* Eligibility determined by year judge advocates became captains. Overage in 2000 is 23, and vulnerable judge advocates total 62.

Source: Air Force

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