This week, the Air Force announced civilian restructuring plans that will eliminate 9,000 civilian positions in management and support areas and realign manpower resources to match critical missions and priorities. 

These changes follow earlier AF decisions to implement hiring controls and voluntary separation programs to reduce overall manpower costs.  In August, the Air Force implemented a 90-day civilian freeze.  However, more measures were necessary to meet Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s direction to keep manpower costs at the FY2010 level.

Since Panetta issued his directive, the Air Force has been conducting a comprehensive strategic review of the civilian size and structure of the workforce.  Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said “we are making difficult choices about how to deliberately restructure and posture the force and will continue to look for new ways of accomplishing the mission.  We can’t afford business as usual.”

As a result of this review, the Air Force also determined it needed to grow in high priority areas.  The announcement stated that 5,900 positions will be added to acquisition, nuclear programs, and ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) and other priority areas.

The Air Force also made a number of restructuring decisions relating to the Air Force Material Command (AFMC).  “AFMC will move away from its traditional management-staff model consisting of a center and headquarters staff for each AFMC base and create a ‘lead’ center for each of its five missions,” the announcement stated. 

The AF Life Cycle Management Center will headquarter at Wright Patterson AFB, OH, the Sustainment Center at Tinker AFB, OK, and the AF Test Center at Edwards AFB, CA.  The AF Research Laboratory will stay at Wright Patterson and the AF Nuclear Weapons Center will remain at Kirtland AFB, NM.

While the announcement identified specific changes to the Air Force Material Command (AFMC), it stated that other major commands will also be affected by restructuring decisions.  Indicating the broad scope of these decisions, BGEN Gina Grosso, Director of Manpower, Organization, and Resources, said “civilian manpower adjustments will occur at all levels of the Air Force.” 

According to Grosso, the new initiatives “represent the next step toward that goal, but there is more work to be done” because the Air Force remains is above its 2010 manpower levels.  Grosso said the Air Force must “define an additional 4500 positions for reduction.”  However, it is unclear how many of these jobs will involve a reduction in force.  “At this time we are pursuing all available voluntary force management measure to include civilian hiring goals with the goal of avoiding involuntary measures,” Grosso said.