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Force Management: Change is on the way

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- As you probably have heard by now, the Air Force will soon be making the difficult personnel decisions that will affect the lives of the Airmen with whom we serve.

The bottom line is we must balance compelling and competing mission requirements, while staying within our congressionally-authorized budget and manning limits. Why are we in this situation? Retention across all of our military services is at historic 15-year highs. In response, the Air Force has attempted to use voluntary separation programs last fall, but was unable to meet its goals.

On one hand this is a great testament to the dedication of our great Airmen, however we now have a relatively high number of career fields that are overstaffed at the expense of others. The recently announced Force Management Program is being used to re-balance our force.

Overall, the numbers may not seem too significant. Right now, we are looking at an attrition rate of 3.1 percent for officers and 2.6 percent of the enlisted force by the end of Fiscal Year 2011.

Fortunately, the targets will be lowered to 2 percent for officers and 1.6 percent for our enlisted force by slowing our accession rates over the next few years. But we all know statistics always seem insignificant - until those numbers hit home.

This isn't an especially easy task to take on. We know going into this that we will lose some great Airmen due to both voluntary and involuntary reductions. Throughout this process, we're committed to doing the right thing for our Air Force, our Airmen and their families.

Toward this end, we have many programs already in place right here at the 45th Space Wing to allow anyone affected a smooth transition from active duty should that turn out to be the case. For our supervisors, ensure your folks are well-read, and even more well-prepared about the upcoming
changes for all our Airmen. Lack of information can be very unsettling, especially in times of change. It's important that we don't underestimate the need to communicate clearly and concisely.

In the coming weeks, we'll be providing the latest status and pertinent information in the Missiler and other means to ensure everyone is up to speed.

We owe everyone that, and a whole lot more. Thanks for all you do.