Air Force to cut 900 civilian jobs, thousands of service members

Thursday - 12/12/2013, 10:22am EST

Although the proposed budget deal restores some spending to the Defense Department, it still won't be enough for forces to maintain their current programs and workforce.

The Air Force plans to cut about 900 civilian positions in 2014, officials announced Wednesday.

The force already has 7,000 vacant positions. It plans to keep them unfilled and continue with targeted hiring "to rebalance the civilian workforce to meet skills demand for fiscal 2014 and beyond," a press release said.

"The Defense Department used administrative furloughs to meet civilian pay budget demands in the compressed time frame between sequestration and the end of the FY13," said Brig. Gen. Gina Grosso, director of force management policy for the Air Force.

Grosso said the Air Force does not intend to use furloughs in 2014 to meet civilian pay budget targets.

The Air Force says it will encourage eligible civilian employees to leave voluntarily through use of Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay.

"These programs offer early retirement for employees who are considering life outside of federal service," the release said. "By implementing voluntary programs now, we hope to mitigate future involuntary losses to the civilian workforce."

The incentive pay program offers $25,000 to employees whose voluntary separation would save another employee from being involuntarily separated.

On top of civilian cuts, the force also plans to cut thousands of service members over the next five years, to make up for lost funds from sequestration.

Long-term impacts of sequestration could force the service to cut 25,000 service members between now and fiscal 2019, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, the Air Force chief of staff, said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

The service announced several management programs Wednesday that would allow it to reduce its force in accordance with orders from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

In the past, Air Force officials have announced voluntary management programs first, followed by the involuntary ones.

"This year, due to the limited timeframe, we're announcing all programs at once to allow Airmen time to consider their options and ensure their personnel records are up to date," said Lt. Gen. Samuel Cox, the deputy chief of staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services.

The Air Force plans to announce more programs in the coming weeks.

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