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Commentary (Aug. 25, 2006): enlisted and officer force shaping part of air force landscape.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Air Force fiscal 2007 force-shaping programs for active-duty members were recently announced. If you are eligible for or supervise someone subject to force shaping, you really need to know about these programs.

Affected airmen, supervisors, and commanders need to be aware of all aspects of force shaping and prepared to participate in the process. Why? Force shaping will involve difficult decisions for airmen and leaders at all levels, but it's critical we mentor our people as we continue to balance the right set of skills and experiences throughout our Air Force, reduce end strength, and recapitalize.

If you didn't have the opportunity to attend one of the mass briefings that explained the fiscal 2007 programs, here are some highlights.

First, we'll have a more restrictive career job reservation program for first-term airmen this year. It's going to be harder for our first-term airmen in overage career fields to get that job reservation to continue in their present Air Force specialty code. Some airmen not offered a career job reservation may be able to retrain, some may be able to get a special duty assignment, and others will be separated at the end of their enlistment. Additionally, more than 1,200 enlisted members will be retrained into critically manned career fields. Overall, the Air Force is planning to reduce the enlisted force by 31,500 members by fiscal 2011.

The officer corps will draw down more than 9,000 members by fiscal 2011 as well. The Air Force Personnel Center will conduct a force shaping board in March 2007 for lieutenants in the 2004 year group in overage career fields. Some lieutenants in the 2003 year group in overage career fields who were not considered by a force shaping board last year will be considered this year.

The AFPC Force Shaping Web site and matrix are the best sources of information. The matrix on the Web site gives officers an idea of where their career field stands. The additional information due out in the fall will be posted on the AFPC Web site as well. Visit <>. The Voluntary Separation Pay program is offering a cash incentive to separate between Oct. 1 and Sept. 29, 2007, for some officers who have six to 12 years' total service. The VSP program is limited to officers in certain overage career fields. Under this program, an eligible captain with eight years' total military service would receive a little more than $90,000 to separate. The separation incentive is a lump sum payment that is subject to income tax withholding. As with the force shaping board, the AFPC Web site is the prime resource for information on VSP.

The Air Force is also planning to conduct a Selective Early Retirement Board this year for line, chaplain, and judge advocate officers in the grades of lieutenant colonel and colonel. The board will consider lieutenant colonels who have been passed over twice for promotion and colonels with four years' time in grade.

A detailed briefing on these programs and instructions for submitting a VSP application are available at <>. Air Force Personnel Center's Force Shaping Web site at <> is a "must visit" for additional information on force shaping.

Katz is the commander, 88th Mission Support Squadron at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

Lt. Col. Scott M. Katz, USAF
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Title Annotation:Career Development
Author:Katz, Scott M.
Publication:Defense AT & L
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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