Force Shaping in perspective

  • Published
  • By Brig.Gen. Richard Devereaux
  • 82nd Training Wing commander
Over the past weeks and months, we've heard much discussion about force shaping, PBD 720, A-76, Selective Early Retirement Boards, and Reductions in Force lists - all personnel actions designed to properly size and shape our Air Force for the 21st Century.

These programs will help ensure we have the right number of personnel in the right career fields to fight and win the global war on terror, provide support to our people and transform our Air Force into an organization that will continue to be the most feared and respected air, space and cyberspace force on the planet.

To have that kind of technologically advanced force, we must reduce the size of our Air Force by about 40,000 personnel. That's because Air Force people are expensive. Every civilian and uniformed individual who we recruit and retain must be paid, trained and supported, and will often receive medical care and retirement pay for the rest of their life.

We need to reduce the size of our Air Force in order to generate the savings we need to modernize our aircraft and recapitalize our systems and technology. Although this "force shaping" is difficult, in the long run it's our only option.

Given the choice of a smaller, technologically-advanced, lethal Air Force versus a larger Air Force filled with people manning outdated and unreliable systems, there really is no choice. That's why the Secretary and the Chief have taken us down the path of a smaller, more capable force.

The good news is that we are well on our way towards achieving the 40,000 reduction. We have about 30,000 more in losses to achieve through FY09 and it looks like most of those will be achieved through voluntary reductions.

Right now, we predict only about 3,000 folks total will be forced to involuntarily leave the Air Force - that's less than 10 percent of the overall target. Three thousand is less than 1 percent of the total size of our active duty force.

So if you think you're vulnerable for force shaping, keep the numbers in perspective. My advice is to keep focused on your job and your own professional development. Continue to work hard to make yourself a "keeper."

As we shape our force, we will need to retain the very best and brightest uniformed and civilian "Airmen" to help achieve new efficiencies and ensure our Air Force continues to serve and defend our nation.

So keep your eye on the ball and continue to do your best to train the airmen of tomorrow here at Sheppard, or support those who do.

Have a safe weekend Team Sheppard!