The Air Force has identified the military manpower adjustments that are required to meet the force structure changes included in the FY2013 budget request.  According to a statement released by the Air Force this week, the FY2013 AF military end strength level will be 501,000, which reflects net reductions to Active (-3,900), Air National Guard (-3,900), and Air Force Reserve (-900) forces.

The Air Force budget force structure changes resulting from the new strategic guidance include a reduction of 227 aircraft, deactivating a combat communications group and some air control squadrons, and resizing AF bands.  To make the manpower changes associated with a revised force structure, Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said the Air Force “used a balanced approach to adjust our [AF] Total Force end strength while maintaining the ability to execute strategic guidance.”

Following Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s guidance to avoid “hollowing out the force” as manpower reductions are made, Gen. Schwartz said the Air Force prioritized “readiness over force structure.” 

Schwartz particularly emphasized the need to achieve the correct balance in Guard and Reserve manpower.  He said AF leaders worked closely with state governors to achieve a force that has the “most effective posture for surge capability and steady-state operational deployment.”  Underscoring this idea, Brig. Gen. Brian Neal, commander of the Air National Guard Readiness Center, said “although we will retain fewer units available to deploy, we will retain overall capacity and sustain command and control structure.” 

To implement these manpower reductions, the Air Force will evaluate “the entire suite of currently authorized force management programs,” according to the press statement.  William Booth, AF Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management Integration, stressed that the Air Force is exploring options to support Airmen prepare to enter the private sector workforce.  “We will offer support programs to help separating Airmen translate their military skills into the private sector and facilitate the transition in a way that capitalizes on the tremendous experience in technical fields and leadership that they develop while serving, he said.

This is the latest step in the Air Force’s plan to adjust manpower and force structure to meet the new strategic guidance and budgetary realities.  In January, the Air Force announced that it had completed civilian workforce reductions under the FY2012 Civilian Workforce Restructure Plan.  The goal in that plan was to reduce civilian workforce costs to the FY2010 level to comply with Secretary Panetta’s direction.