Some majors who were passed over for promotion for the second time last month may be eligible for early retirement, the Air Force said July 3.
Majors who were not continued also may be eligible for the Temporary Early Retirement Authority, or 15-year retirements. Officers who are approved for TERA must retire no later than Jan. 1, 2015.
To be eligible, a major must have at least 15, but fewer than 20, years of total active federal military service time, and at least eight years of active federal commissioned time as of their requested retirement date.
Interested majors have until Sept. 30 to apply for TERA, and can use the online Virtual Military Personnel Flight application process.
Majors in both the Line of the Air Force and LAF-Judge Advocate categories may be eligible for TERA.
The Air Force selected 1,231 majors, including 37 LAF-Js, for promotion to lieutenant colonel in June and passed over 6,092 other majors. The Air Force did not say how many of those majors had been passed over for the second time, but 4,264 of the passed-over majors were below-the-zone.
The Air Force has faced controversy in previous years when it forced out majors through noncontinuation boards. More than 10 of 157 majors who were noncontinued in 2011 sued the Air Force, saying the service had no right to separate them to meet congressionally-mandated end strength numbers.
The Air Force has approved TERA for more than 2,482 airmen — at least 350 officers and at least 2,132 enlisted, according to the most recent force management update.
According to budget plans for 2015 that have not yet been approved by Congress and could change, the Air Force expects to pay $81.6 million to 560 officers taking TERA this year, and $188.9 million in TERA payments to 2,500 enlisted airmen. The Air Force also plans to pay $320.6 million in TERA to 4,200 enlisted airmen next year.
But the Air Force has not budgeted for officer TERA in 2015.
The number of majors in the Air Force is continuing to decline. In 2011, there were 14,524 majors, but by 2013 that had dropped to 14,042. By 2015, the Air Force expects to have 12,145 majors.