82nd TRW commander notifies lieutenants of results

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The wait is over for the results of the much-anticipated Force Shaping Board. Brig. Gen. James A. Whitmore said Sheppard's lieutenants faired well. 

Senior raters across the Air Force were allowed to inform their personnel after board results were officially released Wednesday morning. 

"Based on the expected likelihood of staying in, Sheppard did very well," the 82nd Training Wing commander said. 

The general met with or called each lieutenant eligible for Force Shaping Wednesday morning to inform them of the results. But, he said it was a morning of mixed emotions.
It was one of the hardest things he's had to do as a commander. 

"Anytime you ask a good officer to leave when they want to stay, it's difficult," he said. "There isn't a single one that was eligible for Force Shaping that I wouldn't want on the team." 

The system of selecting officers for retention or separation was fair for all involved. He said the Air Force handled the issue of overmanning among junior officers in a very professional manner. 

The Air Force identified career fields that were heavy with lieutenants and the functional managers determined the desired number of officers to release. Once that number was set, it was up to the lieutenants' senior raters to prepare retention packages to submit to the board. 

General Whitmore said the Air Force was in a position where something had to be done to balance the force. 

"We either allow the Air Force to be overmanned with lieutenants and undermanned with NCOs, or fix it," he said. 

The general said it was difficult to recruit and retain airmen in the Air Force in the late 90s, but since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, many people wanted to stay in and others wanted to join the Air Force. 

Although it is no consolation for any lieutenant selected for separation, General Whitmore said he is convinced every young officer is highly marketable in the private sector. 

"They know what they're getting" he said of civilian companies. "These officers are young, intelligent, highly skilled and disciplined. They'll all do well." 

He said his hope is that many would choose to continue to serve the Air Force as civil service employees or in the reserve components. 

In all, 2,084 lieutenants in the 2002 and 2003 accession year groups will learn if they were selected for retention by the Force Shaping Board. 

"The members of this board were charged by the secretary of the Air Force to perform the complex task of right-sizing our junior officer force by specialty," said Maj. Gen. Glenn Spears, director of force management policy, deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. "The board members were acutely aware of the magnitude of their role in serving on the first board thus institutionalizing the FSB process and ensuring the officer corps is balanced and sustainable." 

Officers were evaluated for retention based on information in their central selection record. The record contained evaluation reports, decorations and the Retention Recommendation Form.  

Officers not selected for retention will be separated no later than Sept. 29 but are still eligible to apply for the Palace Chase or the Blue to Green programs.
(The Air Force Personnel Center News Service contributed to this story.)