In addition to date-of-separation rollbacks, the Air Force has been offering voluntary early-outs to airmen to reduce its force. Among them: waivers for active-duty service commitments and time in service, and Palace Chase transfers, which allow airmen to serve out their remaining service commitment in the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve.
The Air Force still needs slightly more than 1,200 airmen to leave the service before Sept. 30, according to service officials.
As of April 11, more than 2,100 airmen have left the service — 1,678 under the service’s date-of-separation rollback program, which moves up the exit date of airmen who will not be retained when their enlistment term ends, and pays them half separation pay. Another 450 have left under voluntary separation programs, said Col. Emi Izawa, chief of the Air Force military force policy division, in an emailed response to questions.
The Air Force must pare its force to 329,460 by the end of fiscal 2013. That means 1,212 more airmen must go, Izawa said.
Whether a second round of DOS rollbacks is necessary will depend on the outcome of the current phase of the program, Izawa said. The service expects to reach the congressionally mandated end strength through voluntary programs, she said.
Airmen should plan for more cuts in fiscal 2014. As part of the service’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal, released April 10, Air Force officials said they would need to trim the force by another 2,640 airmen. That would bring the end strength to 327,600 by September 2014, if Congress approves the budget.
The service also has yet to decide whether it will need to implement involuntary force reductions such as selective early retirements next year because of automatic budget cuts.
“The Air Force continually monitors and adjusts all force management programs as necessary in order to meet congressionally mandated end strength,” Izawa said.
As part of this year’s DOS rollbacks announced Feb. 14, up to 4,300 airmen were eligible because of negative personnel information.
Airmen who had one or more of the following in their record will automatically be separated by May 31:
* Declined training.
* Refused retainability, such as declining permanent change-of- station orders.
* Were previously denied re-enlistment.
* Are waiting discharge for cause.
Commanders, however, had the authority to decide whether 2,600 airmen with the following would stay or be forced to take the early-out:
* Had five days lost time on their current enlistment.
* Serving on a suspended Article 15.
* Serving on a control roster.
* Had an Article 15 or grade reduction.
Last year, the Air Force forced 2,153 airmen to leave under the DOS rollback. The program is designed to speed up the date of separation for select airmen in paygrades E-8 and below who have fewer than 14 years or more than 20 years of total active federal military service as of May 31.
Of the airmen separated last year, 900 were E-1s, E-2s or E-3s, 666 were E-4s, 535 were E-5s and 52 were E-6s.
Those selected to leave who have at least six years of active service will walk away with half separation pay — about $10,000 for staff sergeants with six years, provided they commit to three years in the Ready Reserve.
As has been the case in previous years, airmen with at least 180 days of active-duty service who are separated under the rollback program will receive transition assistance benefits, which include six months of extended medical care for the member and their families and an ID card for access to the base commissary and exchange for two years, according to the Air Force Personnel Center.
Enlisted airmen separated with more than six but fewer than 20 years of service also will receive half separation pay as long as they are not in their initial term of enlistment and they agree to serve a minimum of three years in the Individual Ready Reserve.
Airmen separated under the rollback program won’t be required to return unearned portions of bonuses, special pays or other monetary incentives. Those who meet the Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility requirements and are honorably discharged will not have their benefits affected.