The Air Force is planning to cut 23,263 airmen this year alone through its massive force management programs, and on the chopping block is 15 percent of security forces airmen.

According to internal documents the Air Force provided at Air Force Times’ request, 18,336 enlisted airmen and 4,927 officers are in career fields that are overmanned and will be cut through voluntary or involuntary measures.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh has repeatedly said that the steep budget cuts known as the sequester would force the service to cut up to 25,000 airmen over the next five years. But the new charts are the first indication that the bulk of those cuts will come this year.

In a Jan. 30 interview, Chief Master Sgt. Stephen White, the enlisted career field manager for security forces, confirmed that the identified cuts are planned to come in fiscal 2014.

“The Air Force is looking at making the cuts all at once,” White said. “Why do this to people every year? It’s painful, but we go through the major set of cuts this year, and airmen don’t have to worry about next year and next year.”

The chart on the involuntary enlisted retention boards identifies 3,992 senior airmen, staff sergeants, technical sergeants and master sergeants in security forces — 15 percent of the total 26,216 in that career field — that are overmanned and likely to be cut. And in two charts on officer reduction-in-force and force shaping boards, 130 security forces officers are also identified as being overmanned and slated for cuts.

In a Jan. 24 Facebook post, Brig. Gen. Allen Jamerson, the director of security forces, said that the quality force reduction board cuts could drive enlisted cuts up to 5,000.

“These will be stressful times and there is not much I can say that will make any of this better,” Jamerson said. “I’m concerned for two reasons: first, this means many of you will not be able to serve much longer, and it means a significant change in the way we protect our people and AF assets. [Today is a] tough day across the Air Force.”

Already stretched

However, White said security forces officials have been talking to Welsh and other top Air Force officials about what cuts of that magnitude could mean for the service’s security. He expects the enlisted security forces cuts will be revised down to about 2,500. White did not know if the officer cuts would be revised.

Cuts of 4,000 to 5,000 security forces would have serious effects, White said. Roughly 2,500 security forces airmen are deployed around the world at any given time, he said, and reducing their ranks is not an option. Some missions, such as guarding nuclear weapons facilities, also cannot be cut, White said.

That means the security forces cuts would fall on other Air Force bases and installations around the United States, which would see considerable reductions in their security. That could mean reducing the number of law enforcement patrols, White said.

The Air Force could also be forced to rely more on local law enforcement, White said. Many bases now have memorandums of understanding with local sheriff’s departments or police departments to provide law enforcement on off-base housing, for example. The Air Force could have to renegotiate those agreements to receive more support.

White said that security forces are already stretched when groups of airmen transition to and from deployments. There is some overlap when a new group of security forces airmen deploy, and then the returning airmen require a few weeks off to rest and reconnect with their families. Those periods already put considerable strain on security forces, and the significant reductions that are in the works will worsen matters, he said.

Other hard-hit fields

It’s not just security forces facing significant cuts. The charts identify 172 enlisted career fields and 32 officer fields that have at least some overmanning that will be cut.

In the materiel management career field, 490 airmen — almost 8 percent of its total force — are slated to be cut. The pavements and construction equipment field will lose 420 airmen, or 21 percent of its total force.

The RF transmission spectrum career field will lose 616 airmen, or almost 17 percent. And 689 aircraft armament systems airmen — 10 percent of its force — will be cut, as will 520 munitions system airmen, or 8 percent. And 15 percent of the fuels career field, or 528 enlisted airmen, will be cut.

And a chart on the enhanced selective early retirement board, or E-SERB, which was obtained by Air Force Times after this article was originally posted, said that the biomedical sciences corps category is overmanned by 72 majors, the medical service corps is overmanned by 77 majors, and the nurse corps is overmanned by 92 majors. Another newly obtained chart said that 11 biomedical sciences corps lieutenant colonels are vulnerable to the E-SERB, although not all of them will be cut, and the chart did not say how overmanned each year group is. The original numbers posted with this article have been revised to reflect the new information.

A third new chart detailed 520 overmanned first lieutenants and captains in the biomedical sciences corps, dental corps, medical services corps and nurse corps categories that will be cut this year through force shaping boards.

The Air Force Personnel Center said the numbers in the charts, which were dated Jan. 23, are subject to change and are updated periodically, but not weekly. AFPC also said the numbers are for general information and that airmen should get specific details from their military personnel section or AFPC, and that each airman must confirm his actual eligibility by contacting his unit leadership and military personnel section.

Airmen frustrated

Airmen across the service are growing angry and scared as they learn how massive and swift the cuts will be — especially some who have served multiple deployments at war.

“There’s no loyalty,” said one security forces officer who asked that his name and rank not be printed. “I did three deployments, I have gone through a divorce because of how much I’ve been gone. After all that we’ve done, and given, and sacrificed, the reward is a separation paycheck?”

The officer said that he and his friends are frustrated, because they don’t know if they’ll still have jobs in six months and they wish the Air Force was telling them more on what the various boards will be considering.

And morale is plunging, he said.

“I know on my side, everybody’s pinging off each other,” he said. “Everybody’s asking how does this affect you, what have you heard, what do you know? I feel like they’re leaving us out of the loop.”

White said he understands the officer’s frustrations, but budget cuts are forcing the service to make painful decisions.

“We owe it to them to ensure that we do everything we can to take care of them, as best as we can,” White said. “But with the reality of budget constraints, we have to get down to our end strength. We definitely appreciate everything they’ve done. Less than 1 percent of Americans have served, so we want to honor them. We’re trying to do the best we can.”

White said he and other officials are starting to travel to bases to talk to airmen about the cuts and answer their questions. He said he spoke with about 80 airmen for three hours Jan. 28 at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

“I look out on their faces, and I [see] concern,” he said. “Most of those guys and gals are young, and they started families, and now they’re worried about the future. So I get it. We’re going to Montana and other places starting next week, out on the road. Our goal here is to try to break the program down, so they can understand their options, and understand realistically how they would fare if we do have retention boards.”

Voluntary cuts preferred

Air Force officials have frequently said they hope to achieve most of their force cuts through voluntary measures, such as 15-year retirements, voluntary separation payments, time-in-grade and active- duty service commitment waivers, and an expanded Palace Chase program allowing airmen to serve out the rest of their careers in the Guard or Reserve.

White said he thinks many senior airmen and staff sergeants in the security forces ranks are likely to take the voluntary separation measures. But he thinks the Air Force will probably have to use involuntary boards to separate enough security forces tech sergeants and master sergeants to meet its new requirements.

But the prospect of facing a future outside of the Air Force scares the security forces officer.

“This is the only life I’ve known,” he said.

TARGETED FOR SEPARATION: ENLISTED

Enlisted career fields, by rank, with the number of overmanned positions and number of airmen in those positions vulnerable to being separated by a retention board: Key: O = Overage, V = Vulnerable

The Air Force Personnel Center said the numbers in the charts, which were dated Jan. 23, are subject to change and are updated periodically, but not weekly. AFPC also said the numbers are for general information and that airmen should get specific details from their military personnel section or AFPC, and that each airman must confirm his actual eligibility by contacting his unit leadership and military personnel section.

AFSC E-4 E-5 E-6 E-7 E-8 E-9AFSC %
OVOVOVOVOVOVoverage
1A0x121320.2
1A10031214.3
1A1x160263102208419619
1A2x11056917948310.8
1A300; 1A40051222.7
1A3x1; 1A4x14079543254421614596257.7
1A6x12755112132**16.9
1A800**0
1A900176.3
1A9x165253**3447.4
1C0x27391312826.3
1C100**0
1C1x1362671164524.2
1C300112135.5
1C3x133931302
1C6x1181067305172.7
1C7x144575.3
1N0x1123138**1236411614.4
1N1x1A83127****2.6
1N2x1C485632152.6
1P00031114.3
1P0x143494242.1
1S0001314.3
1S0x1**33839.3
1U0x1605221133011811733.1
1W0002168.7
2A0903139.7
2A0x1K15424613339158
2A0x1M14428
2A0x1P1534143026218
2A2x12844191056.2
2A2x22324111.3
2A373411610.7
AFSC E-4 E-5 E-6 E-7 E-8 E-9AFSC %
OVOVOVOVOVOVoverage
2A37430441.3
2A3x3E111491702166.3
2A3x3L10514633246.3
2A3x4A763975908
2A3x4B34528
2A3x5A35386.6
2A3x5C36216.6
2A3x7A3365281665
2A3x8B205414010.4
2A5001940.2
2A571142060.9
2A5x1B482080.9
2A5x1C**0.9
2A5x1D**0.9
2A5x4A25171**1.1
2A5x4B**1.1
2A5x4E32411.1
2A600168313.3
2A671G134591271344.4
2A69020604.4
2A69110314.4
2A6x1C243784.4
2A6x1H1911746244.4
2A6x264155162609101272170155122914.2
2A6x320233.1
2A6x44315654495.1
2A6x54036641843.9
2A6x63457343343901074.7
2A7x1341762482291910.1
2A7x21129295329148.1
2A7x33746810521434527.6
2A7x52016453909.4
2A871E13172.8
2A872E12322.7
2A8x1B12732.7
2A8x1F462202.7
2A8x1G**2.7
2A8x2B5662.7
2A8x2C10182.7
2A8x2F222.7
AFSC E-4 E-5 E-6 E-7 E-8 E-9AFSC %
OVOVOVOVOVOVoverage
2A9x1A8133
2A9x1E1053
2A9x1G1143
2A9x2A180.2
2A9x2D**0.2
2A9x3A12158332.6
2A9x3C672.6
2A9x3H**2.6
2F0x12096132172869412783115
2G0002820
2G0x1638681739.4
2M0x117374413121619.6
2M0x241814847344.5
2P0x1777233143477417.9
2R0002104.1
2R1x11835101293.7
2S0002403.4
2S0x1511,1903186121212377.6
2T0x15013738635.2
2T10031414.3
2T1x1158173847811810.9
2T2x1268341573648813910306.2
2T370216286978340.4
2T39012040.4
2T3x2C2750.4
2T3x710271882.2
2W000**0
2W0x11581,1982505369619816478
2W1003365.5
2W1x11681,136291572212169184810.7
2W2x13444582162617176.3
3D00011782.8
3D0x130918145762412618.3
3D0x211164361351
3D0x36490.4
3D0x42240.4
3D1003590.8
3D1x117265126894.6
3D1x2331341086266465811414
3D1x3243202232660743066710016.8
AFSC E-4 E-5 E-6 E-7 E-8 E-9AFSC %
OVOVOVOVOVOVoverage
3D1x49318
3D1x55641197946961813.1
3D1x68148481253380242222.8
3D1x74313212994414159.5
3E0x1431006127814139543211.6
3E0x261796221151127403715.4
3E1x17611510927341120343916.9
3E2x112715518038584164292121.4
3E3x17412615834874148343418.4
3E49072812.1
3E4x1641268628970144394616.5
3E4x3638218566.2
3E5x129313.1
3E6x12521**5
3E700**0
3E7x11065333221757476.1
3E9001411.1
3E9x1101331.4
3M0x1651458465597280311154387.7
3N0x51624181424.2
3N1912511.9
3N1x11837332211.9
3N200****0
3N2x17644.1
3P0008756.8
3P0x11,555 1,315 1,0833,1889501,482397414710315.2
3S0x1301880.7
3S100**0
3S1x111374319.1
3S2x177577.9
3S3x31384291208.8
4A0x1224858520817681274.9
4A1003537.5
4A1x14285419640729222711.3
4A2001214.3
4A2x1617101021054917146.8
4B000**0
4B0x1102557192641052524**15.8
4C000**0
4D000**0
AFSC E-4 E-5 E-6 E-7 E-8 E-9AFSC %
OVOVOVOVOVOVoverage
4D0x1115234518105821.7
4.00E+001312.5
4E0x1163849246389911291139.2
4H0x12240.6
4J000**0
4J0x2811846634131113.1
4J0x2A503213.1
4M0x11751734691111.2
4N0001152.9
4N071**1621392.9
4N0x1C1010715282.9
4N1x1C4113111.6
4N1x1D26231.6
4P0001316.7
4P0x125357133438327195812.6
4R000**15.8
4R0903915.8
4R0x144501188211712.8
4R0x1A195112.8
4R0x1B23268212.8
AFSC E-4 E-5 E-6 E-7 E-8 E-9AFSC %
OVOVOVOVOVOVoverage
4R0x1C3112.8
4T000133.7
4T090**3.7
4T0x12238311532898253810.3
4V000**0
4V0x1137316.8
4Y0x1323078311950419.7
4Y0x26306222.9
5J0002913.3
5J0x1131274481.9
5R0x1557015.9
6C0003721.4
6C0x12010730336202233.6
6F0x197105823051819010791329.3
7S000463.6
7S0x1656210167.4
8F0x010150.9
9S1x0140.2

*not vulnerable to the retention board, but eligible for voluntary early retirement or separation.

TARGETED FOR SEPARATION: OFFICER

Officer career fields, by year group, with the number of overmanned positions and number of officers in those positions vulnerable to being separated by a RIF or force shaping board (Officers in 2004 year group not affected): Key: O = Overage, V = Vulnerable

72 majors in the biomedical sciences corps category from year groups 2001 to 2003, 77 medical service corps majors from year groups 2001 to 2004, and 92 nurse corps majors from year groups 1997 to 2001 are also overmanned, and many could be cut through an enhanced selective early retirement board, or E-SERB. Another E-SERB will consider 11 biomedical sciences corps lieutenant colonels from 1989 to 1994.

The Air Force Personnel Center said the numbers in the charts, which were dated Jan. 23, are subject to change and are updated periodically, but not weekly. AFPC also said the numbers are for general information and that airmen should get specific details from their military personnel section or AFPC, and that each airman must confirm his actual eligibility by contacting his unit leadership and military personnel section.

RIF BoardsForce Shaping Board
AFSC2001 2002 2003 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011AFSC %
OVOVOVOVOVOVOVOVOVOVoverage
11B2417582477627673.9
11M132573030418342844666946884506524358
11R215717472361205822592677215715.3
11S2841213181013712.1
12B1399499496423.6
12M9169131727151715191520202326.7
12R345644338134013364278376.7
12S44333333911664373.8
13B3463267996467430117201058.5
13M1951075721311221561817.4
13N142313261128103713452762145310.2
13S3151375113552171391018.3
14N3695199250215110270502409
15W121915174143284331358.1
17D775458542357231109114261408.8
21A41152612113655585823822987178513.8
21M134128410113113519112515.6
21R5545363515331479501575187838982510416.2
31P282216171529112893110362250195720
32E1138174426571549206027717553188127527915.3
35P12727291325317143222217.4
38P5036412430359491259217086425913310759117
61A21612267241024625729133453315.9
61B4434477915711914142071451.4
61C132434351425482825.7
61D18186132123931361781841919.1
62E37105511318316611119483189118236103228103245822488627933.5
63A2365417716703.8
64P101451472023734326658658.8
65X1511127315926326228831134513710.6
71S151410931241192321662415.7
LAF-J*2162226553108541162810112.8

* Eligibility determined by year judge advocates became captains. Overage in 2000 is 23, and vulnerable judge advocates total 62.

Source: Air Force

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