View Full Version : Question re: USAF end strength cutbacks
My son is a SSGT stationed in Aviano. He has done very well in the USAF, and would like to stay in and poissibly earn a commission; however, the coming end strength cuts have him believing that he will have a better chance in the Army under their "blue to green" program. If he stays in the USAF, he told me the wait to get promoted from E5 to E6 could be 8 years, and virtually no chance to get a commission as the officer ranks will get whacked, too (even pilots). He has some kind of comm/tech MOS. He's getting his package ready to submit to the Army WO helo pilot program.
What the heck is going on in the USAF? Hard to believe that we are at war and guys who insure we have air supremecy are getting the boot!
Promotion depends on him for the most part. Rank in the A.F. is made by testing. If you study, you make rank, there is some more to it but it doesn't take most of us 8 years to go from a Staff to a Tech.
I have heard that we are cutting LT's because after 911 we pretty much said if you want to, you can join and now we have to many company grade officers.
If he goes into the Army and has a decent package he may very well get selected to be a 0 or a warrent officer and fly choppers.
As far as the AF dumping pilots, I haven't seen to much of that. I know we are cutting back on airframes but generally the folks that wear the "god suit", aka aircrew are good to go. The goverment has invested to much money in them. If they want it I am sure that retraining is an option. I'm sure it isn't but a few weeks of training to fly a different airframe.
A few to me is 2,3,or12. Same thing, especially when you come home and tell the wife how much you have been drinking.
The AF goes through this cycle off and on. They will try to get x number of troops to either cross train or seperate on thier own. The Security Forces are going through that right now for E-5's. I don't have exact numbers but it's funny they are cutting them since they are so short due to deployments they are still invouluntary activating 13 man sqauds (average) from ANG and Reserve bases.
I always say if Rumsfield could have a robot army he would. he'd just keep a few humans around to blame when things go wrong.
As far as pilots go I think you will see drastic cutbacks within the next 12-15 years when alot of the current airframes get retired. They will still have traditional pilots but you'll see alot more UAV pilots since thats the direction we are going barring any change in the next election. The ironic thing is UAV pilots get flight pay like airfram pilots but they never leave the ground. I was at Indian Spring north of Vegas at desert warfare school where the preditor SQ's are located. typical military.
I don't know how long you have been in, but 5 or 6 years ago, SF was offering a $40,000 retraining bonus to SSgt's.
The A.F. is bad about cycling. We have to many people cut cut cut cut cut. Oh crap we don't have enough, recruit recruit recruit. So on and so forth.
I have been in for just over 20 years. 7 1/2 active duty several years active guard and now traditional guard. I have seen the AF do a 180 and back. Thats one thing I don't understand they cut and cut. Then they act surprised there isn't enough people.
I said this in an earlier post on the SF check in. As far as SF is concerned not too long ago Gen Holmes a career combat controller was appointed as the GEN over SF. I thought this was a good move because ever since our inception a "cop" was always the GEN for us. The bad thing about cops most do not like change and would carry on doing stuff because "thats the way we always do it". There are now something like 21000-22000 active duty cops. Of those only 8000 or so can be deployed (positions) GEN Holmes shook up the SF community when he demanded anwsers as to why only 8000 can deploy. Then they need the guard and reserve so much. They have an extensive amount of back office not to mention PRP positions at nuclear bases. The sad thing is GEN Holmes is already being replaced by GEN Herzog (sp) from Lackland. My chief thinks the O-6 SF community complained about Holmes and thats why (his opinon)
My guard base along with about 35 others had 13 cops invouletary ativated in FEB of this year to go overseas. We just came off a two year activation. If its our time in the buckett I don't have a problem doing what we are trained to do. However, just because AD mismange thier numbers.
I've seen a little bit of everything. I work for a federal agency. They have been good about it when I have been gone but I'm hanging up my hat next month after 20. I'ts been a fun ride but since the merger it just gets mor crazy by the year.
Their was/is also a program called ARCv in which they had both cops and other career fields as augmentees activated at active duty, guard and reserve bases performing security forces duty because of the increased manning/threatcons since 9/11. guard and reserve troops were also at active duty bases "helping". They "AD" cut the funding as of the 15th of MAY the ARCv extra manning goes away at guard and reserve bases. Acite Duty is keeping thier guard and reserve people for them. They "AD" is deemed themselves worthy enough for extra manning. The ANG and reserve has just as many multi million dolar resources but are not allowed to protect them on a level like AD is. My base like others are forced to go to pre 9/11 manning levels. Like 3-4 on per shift. What active duty base makes due with that.
Since 1992, the force draw-down has effected many. Since the higher percent of enlisted desire to remain on active duty in the Air Force compared to the other services, promotion has always been slow in the Air Force.
One thing is for sure, Air Force life is certainly more accomodating than the other services. Not bashing, just saying it like it is. Afterall, there is a reason why airmen desire to remain in the Air Force while soldiers, sailors, and marines tend to get out when their contract is up.
Having been a commisioned officer with prior enlisted sevice, I can attest that there are pros and cons with each. My 0.02cents is that the officer world is the place to be.
If your son really desires a commision, perhaps he should take a close look at the needs of the Air Force for officers and strive to fill those ranks. I hope he is taking advantage of the educational benefits while on active duty. Between on base classes, DANTES, and CLEP tests, he should be earing a college degree.
Hope this helps. Good luck to your son.
My credentials: Served 22 years Active of which 18 were as a Recruiter.
I have seen numerous drawdowns during my 22 years and in most cases it is used to balance AFSC's (specialities) not end strength. Promotions in the Enlisted Force from SSgt to MSgt is based on a point structure comprised of weighted areas (TIG, TIS, Decorations, PFE Scores, SKT Scores, etc.). Based on the needs of a particular AFSC for a specific pay grade, scoring a 50 on the test could get you promoted whereas an 80 in another AFSC might not make the cutoff. If you look at the timelines, SSgt to TSgt normally takes the longest. My suggestion is that if he has the ability, research other AFSC's in the Air Force he could cross-train into and take a close look at the promotion opportunities within that AFSC.
As for going to OTS, there are so many different avenues it can make your head swim. Depending on his current education level there are opportunities in a wide range of areas. If his interest lies in Health Care, opportunities existed (I am not current in this anymore) as a Physician Assistant, Nursing, Public Health, etc.
Each base has a career opportunity center and career advisor that he can obtain assistance from for research.
Bottom line: I never heard a former Army, Navy, or Marine who crossed into Air Force Blue complain. Nothing against my Sister Services, but once you have worn Blue and swapped, if the opportunity presented itself to put the Blue Suit back on, most would jump on it. All of the services have specific roles and functions (and I salute all of them) but the lifestyle in the Air Force is so different from our Sister Services it is difficult to make and accept the change.
Did a little research for you and here are some stats (promotion from E5 to E6 during the last cycle):
Time in Grade (TIG): 4.63 yrs
Time in Service (TIS): 11.04
EPS (Performance Reports): 133.15 points
SKT & PFE Scores: 53.88/66.81
The rate of promotion varied greatly between AFSCs from a low of 5.28% to a high of 33.51% (you can see the entire range from promotions to E5, E6, and E7 by clicking the link below).
I hope this info is helpful and not too long winded. Please thank your Son for his service to our Country!
If he is doing well in the comm field but is challenged by the move from E-5 to E-6, may I suggest a cross train into a field with faster promotion cycles that can still use his skills? Thinking STS, TACP, Combat WX, etc. on pointy spear type units.
The other thing for him to consider is checking AGR positions where promotion is better (faster?), depending on his unit.
I knew one fellow who left ADUSAF to become a WO in the Army as a rotor head. When I hear dfrom him last, he was doing well and content. Not happy but at least he was flying. But that was over 15 years ago.
It's his career, and it will be his decision, and I'll support him any way he goes. FWIW, he likes the "pointy end of the spear"-- he spent the war in the middle of the desert at a secret SpecOps base providing comm support for the snake eaters. Sent me a picture-- you would have sworn he was a grunt. Blue or green, I think he'll make it a career. A "blue star" flag flies at our house in his honor.
I have to agree on the blue quality of life being superior to the green-- especially Marine green. We put our families through the ringer-- substandard housing, short deployment cycles (and getting shorter by the day), and we place no emphasis on getting more education-- in the USMC world, enlisted Marines do not need college degrees, and are not encouraged to get one unless they are applying for a commissioning program like NROTC or USNA. My son told me that many senior sergeants in the USAF have their bachelor's degree. I applaud this philosophy-- it makes for a smarter force overall. I was always envious of the Navy's philosphy of allowing their folks to "homestead" -- do a sea tour in Norfolk, then get a shore tour in Norfolk, and then go to sea again. A sailor could spent the better part of a 20 year career in one area-- establish some roots, spouse could get some tenure in a job, pile up some equity in a house. Strictly verbooten in Marine world. It's a wonder any of us stayed married to the same girl-- and many didn't. Reductions in force don't mean reductions in missions, and all of the services have had to do more with less. I'm glad I did 20 years in the green machine, and I hope my son continues to enjoy his time in blue. He's fourth generation of our family to serve in uniform, and first to go USAF.
See your PM.
SF actually had a bunch of "other AFSC" types, E-5/E-6 get forcibly retrained or booted, into SF, specifically, a lot of K-9 people.
They just weedwhacked a whole mess of LTs. In my squadron we lost two excellent lieutenants (really had their &(*! wired and loved the troops and the mission) just because the AF can't figure out how many LTs they need. Both are going to work as contractors overseas since they both just came back from there anyways.
There's a lot of shuffling going on, and it's not always good, but hey, i'm a 2-striper what do I know right?
The majority of our sergeants have degrees or are in the process of getting them, even though in SF it's extremely hard to find any time to do so. Guy who put on Master yesterday has a bachelor's and is working on a master's degree. Not bad for 18 years in.
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