No cuts to Air Force personnel levels in FY 15, service secretary says

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Deborah Lee James, the 23rd secretary of the Air Force, speaks during an interview at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on March 23, 2014, at the end of her first overseas visit since becoming the Air Force's top civilian leader in December. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
From Stripes.com
Deborah Lee James, the 23rd secretary of the Air Force, speaks during an interview at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on March 23, 2014, at the end of her first overseas visit since becoming the Air Force's top civilian leader in December. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)

No cuts to Air Force personnel levels in FY 15, service secretary says

by: Jennifer H. Svan | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: December 17, 2014

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The Air Force will not pursue involuntary force shaping in fiscal 2015, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said Tuesday during an online town hall.

“Gen. Welsh is in agreement,” James said, referring to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III. “Enough is enough. We are as low as we are going to go.”

During a tough year of personnel cuts, the Air Force in 2014 selected more than 13,000 airmen for voluntary separation, while more than 6,000 were told they must leave involuntarily.

Air Force officials have said the service is working toward reducing its end strength to 310,900 by September 2015, down from more than 327,000 this year.

It’s not certain what types of voluntary force shaping or separation pay the Air Force might offer next year.

James did say that the Air Force must do a better job of cross training as it tries to cut down on over-manned career fields.

“We need to make sure we work to get to the right balance over the next few years,” she said.

James spoke for nearly 45 minutes, answering questions from a live audience and fielding inquiries from airmen overseas via Skype and social media.

She noted that the Air Force has reduced the use of contractors over the last year and predicted the service will continue to do so. The Air Force is asking senior leaders to “justify one more time why they need that particular contract,” James said. “If it doesn’t appear essential going forward, then we are saying perhaps we need to do without it.”

The service is trying to “enforce the message we need to make every dollar count.”

svan.jennifer@stripes.com

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