Words by Mike Weisbecker.
Well the time has finally come that the military has to really look at trimming the ranks. From looking at what the Air Force is doing in FY 2014, they have no less than 18 programs to determine early separation/retirement for officers and enlisted. Almost everyone seems to be in play on this one. And with the processes moving fast and furious, you better start getting your ducks in a row ASAP if you have any inkling that this will affect you.
Does the Air Force need to downsize? Yep. Is this a well thought out way to do it? Nope. It will be the equivalent of doing brain surgery with two crash axes from an aircraft. So if you get the axe, good luck and don’t let the door smack you in the ass. If you survive to keep serving, be prepared to do even more with even less.
They are starting with Chief (E-9) retention boards. To make E-8 and E-9, performance records are actually looked at along with taking an exam on supervisory knowledge. Their records have been reviewed fairly well as they had the same process done to make E-8. With this retention board, they will be looking at the reports from a different side than previously. It pretty much applies to all the career fields in the service for Chiefs. For those that do not want to meet the board they can apply for early retirement.
And the fun won’t stop there. You in an over-manned career field? Start looking at your performance reports. Your choices will probably be to separate or retire.
Have a referral report, PT failure or some other transgression that resulted in an Article 15? Remember when your commander said when it happened 2, 3, 4 years ago that you could recover and still have a great career in the Air Force? Well that may not be true anymore and the action that you admirably recovered from may be the thing the board says gets you the one way ticket out the gate. And unit commanders will have a lot less leeway than when similar retention reviews happened.
Well let’s say you are in the 15-19 year window. There is an early retirement option open now, but you have to decide quickly. Do you want to take what’s behind door #1 with the early retirement (which is a lower percentage of your base pay than leaving at 20) or will you take the chance on surviving the board?
The other services have done boards like this in the past and Big Blue says they are consulting with them on how those went for their personnel. Prepare now. Get into a transition class ASAP. Start writing a resume. Sign up with one or more of the veteran groups as they are a great resource for help and visit WarriorLodge.com for the most up to date information regarding veteran employment and entrepreneurship.
And to my currently serving Air Force brethren: Happy Hunger Games and May the odds be ever in your favor!