The United States Air Force is not
only halting its downsizing program, but is planning to increase its strength
from 324,191, to 330,000 over the next two years. Most of the new troops, and
more besides, will be assigned to reconnaissance and intelligence work, as well
as UAV and nuclear weapons units.
the air force had been reorganizing and downsizing, and that included the
junior officers who are usually immune to such cuts. In the last two years,
2,000 lieutenants were dismissed The air force had planned to cut their
strength by 5,400 personnel this fiscal year (which began last October). This
downsizing was halted as of this Summer.
force has long been accused (by members of the other services) of operating more
like a corporation than a military organization. That's a little harsh, because
the air force is the most tech minded of the services, and has always taken the
lead in adapting commercial innovations to military use. But both the air force and navy decided on
downsizing in response to the impact of technology, outsourcing and automation,
in a process similar to that faced by many civilian firms. Unlike previous
downsizing efforts, where many troops were fired, most of the reduction this
time around is from retirement and people not re-enlisting. Higher standards
for re-enlisting were used to make cuts. This had a side benefit of improving
the overall quality of the force.
force is still going to lose jobs that are no longer needed. Most of the personnel in surplus jobs will be
retrained. The original impetus for the cuts was money. Each active duty airman
costs over $100,000 a year. The money saved was to go towards purchasing more
technology. A year ago that means more
F-22s, but now it's more likely to be more UAVs and transports.
years of cuts, the U.S. Air Force has fewer people on active duty than at any
other time in its history. However, if you add in reservists (181,000),
strength is a bit higher than it was when the air force was formed (from the
U.S. Army Air Force) in 1948. The air force also has slightly more officers on
active duty today (65,000) than it did in 1948, but that's a reflection of the
growing importance of technology. Air Force personnel today have much more
education than they did sixty years ago, and that is reflected in higher pay
and, on average, higher rank.