Reserve airmen asking to leave service have to wait 6 more months

The Air Force Reserve is holding onto airmen who want to leave the service or move to a new assignment for the next six months.

A memo signed by Air Force Reserve chief Maryanne Miller bars some reservists who voluntarily asked to leave the service or reassign for half a year in order to help staff occupations in need of bodies. The order holds onto the reservists from April 1 to Sept. 30, according to the memo, which was first posted on the Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page.

The Air Force Reserve is calling the move “loss management.” The memo states “past experience, current recruiting challenges and a review of our progress in reaching end strength goals indicate we must retain as many personnel as possible through the end of the fiscal year.”

Air Force Reserve spokesman Lt. Col. Chad Gibson said the order applies to all Air Force reservists who volunteered to separate, discharge or retire in 2018.

“This is not a stop-loss, but merely an extension of service for six months while we transition to onboarding Citizen Airmen and most importantly, the success of the mission supporting the nation’s defense,” Gibson said.

Gibson added that with the job market improving there are more opportunities for potential employees to choose from. The Air Force therefore has to compete with private industry for the individuals it wants.

Gibson noted Air Force Reserve Command has met or exceeded its recruiting goals for the last 17 years and currently employs about 69,000 airmen. The 2018 defense authorization bill allows the reserve to bump that number up to 69,800.

The Air Force as a whole has grown rapidly over the past three years and is hurting for certain occupations such as pilots, cyber experts and maintainers.

To help retain airmen currently in active duty, the Air Force made some serious changes to what airmen are responsible for in their everyday jobs. In the fall of 2016, the Air Force cut some of its ancillary and computer-based training to give airmen more time outside of their jobs.

“We’ve taken some modest steps to ensure we use our airmen’s time in the smartest way, but this is a journey,” Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein said. “We’ll continue to be deliberate about what we cut or streamline, but more is required as we continue to focus our efforts on the business of warfighting, respecting our Airmen’s time and still meeting the necessary requirements to take care of our mission and our force.”

Read more of the DoD Personnel Notebook.

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