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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

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July 14, 2014 - 8:59 am

The Air Force announced a major reorganization today that it hopes will save $1.6 billion over the next five years.

The Air Force “will create efficiencies by deactivating and realigning organizations at headquarters Air Force, major commands (MAJCOMs), numbered air forces and field operating agencies,” the Pentagon said, on a target to reduce staffing by more than the 20 percent laid out as a benchmark by the Defense Department.

That translates to 3,459 positions on the chopping block at headquarters across the Air Force, both in country and overseas. Early retirements and buyouts will be offered to civilian personnel “to foster voluntary reductions before pursuing involuntary measures.”

The Air Force will try to reap “any additional savings…from staff functions above the wing level.”

“I will work to ensure the world’s best Air Force is the most capable at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer,” Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said in a statement. “Everyone knows our economy is still not where it should be; we have a responsibility to ensure that every dollar adds value to the taxpayers and our national defense.”

“We are aggressively pursuing reductions within the first year, rather than spread them out over five years as allowed by DoD,” she said. “It’s better for airmen because it provides them predictability and allows us to re-stabilize our workforce sooner. It also allows us to harvest the savings earlier so that we can plow it back into readiness and some of our key modernization programs.”

A new Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center (AFIMSC), which will report to Air Force Materiel Command, will be created in an effort to streamline operations.

“We will now have an organization, A5/8, that is responsible for developing, managing and constantly assessing an Air Force strategy that is bounded by long-range resource projections and another organization, FM, that deals primarily with the day-to-day budget activities involved in running the Air Force,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said. “Keeping organizations aligned will ensure we keep moving towards our long-range strategic goals despite the short-term budget upheaval we face regularly.”

“The Air Force has been making incremental changes in our business practices for the last several years, but we must change the way we are doing business if we are to meet the Air Force’s goal to reduce staffing functions by more than 20 percent,” said Bill Booth, Air Force acting deputy chief management officer. “Reducing higher headquarters’ staffs means we can save money that can be re-invested in getting ready for combat missions at the wing level.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (14)
All Comments   (14)
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Here comes another big drawdown. Never saw one done well, and in the end, cuts have a depressing randomness about them.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good move and the Department of Defense should move to a combined staff like everyone else. Take it from someone who was a REMF for the last six years of his career. The SECDEF only needs a small staff.

Here is my suggestion for the leadership of a combined staff:


J-1 combines with USD(PR). Civilian director, military deputy.
J-2 combines with USD(I) Rotate between a military director and a civilian director. The deputy J-2 will be the opposite
J-3 OPS remains all military
J-4 Logistics combines with L the part of USD(ATL). Civilian director, military deputy
J-5 combines with USD(P). Civilian directior, military deputy
J-6 C3 merges with DISA. Rotate between Military director, civilian deputy
J-7 and J-8 merge with the A&T of USD ATL. Civilian director, military deputy.

The individual service/secretariats follow suit.

Lots of O-6s/GS-15 amd Flag/SES billets disappear.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
You're slamming up against Pournelle's Iron Law. Not gonna happen.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
1. The Air Force has a higher officer to enlisted ratio than the other services (somewhere around 13.5%) Army and Navy weigh in at about 12%. The Corps has about 11%, but has a lot of staff functions (med, legal, chaplain etc) provided by the Navy side of the house.
2. We, all of us, are over officered and under manned.
3. In Industrial Engineering speak, the various layers are called 'Span of Control'. At the turn of the 20th century this number was around 5; that is once you get to five folks you need a foreman (corporal). Five groups of five, a sergeant and so on. Modern span of control is closer to ten.
4. The grades of E8 and E9 where created by Curtis Lemay to provide places for the WWII master sergeant with only 5-10 years of service to go. No longer needed. See span of control in #3 above.
5. The rank of Lt. General was created by Lincoln to deal with McClellan and allow Grant a free hand. No longer needed.
6. Only four officer grades below flag rank are needed. (Lt/Ens; Capt/Lt; Major/Commander and Colonel/Captain.

The civilian GS system mirrors the military system, with 15 grades top to bottom. Correct (pay neutral correction) the number of grades and rate of progress through the grades, the overhead will self correct.

Limit officer to enlisted ratio to 10% for all.

Eliminate the idea of Deputy Commanders. Not needed in the big war, why now? Grade creep is why.

This will help the tooth to tail ratio as well.

ta
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Some of the imbalance is due to roles ..... officers fly planes, navigate them, and serve as missile launch officers. Planning and executing the Air Tasking Order also requires more officers than the ratio you seek. I agree that wherever possible, we should rely on the strong Senior NCO folks.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
A strong, patriotic military is a strategic obstacle to the "fundamental transformation" of America.

But where are the protest resignations from the top? The argument that by staying they can do their best to alleviate the damage can only go so far. Mass resignations by top military personnel could not be ignored by the press nor could Obama spin it.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
There has been a purge at the top of those who have spoken out.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Targeting the REMF's (rear echelon mother fu....s):that could negatively impact the desired gender ratios and morale. Of course, creating two new commands to manage the downsizing could solve that personnel crotch problem, although one would have thought managing the everyday budget and future personnel levels was the established Pentagon's forte. Spending the peace dividend before the war's over is going to be tricky and so far the president's previous experiments haven't panned out, and the VA is a disaster; there's just not enough waiting vets dying to make that twenty percent cut.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
The one area in the federal government that Dear Liar can cut.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
About time. More colonels than you shake a stick at in the Pentagon. Need to get rid of about 150 generals too, if not more.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
We went through this in the 70's RIF or reduction in force under Carter. Now its Obamies turn to hollow out the military for fun and profit. In England they have a saying that the NHS ate the British Navy. They transferred spending on the Navy to the Nat Health Service. There, no navy, O is doing the same thing to us but to the entire "evil" US military.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good grief!

"A new Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center (AFIMSC), which will report to Air Force Materiel Command, will be created in an effort to streamline operations", she says.

Why on Earth can't they effect those reductions with their existing Personnel Unit positions without creating an additional bureaucratic layer?

And, please don't say that that's "..just a few people" in proportion to those to be separated.

You can bet that that new AFIMSC will now be a new permanent box in their organizational charts.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
I tried to substitute [edit] the word "balloon" instead of "box", but I wasn't quick enough, pls read "balloon".
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
So, they are targeting the REMF's? Good. Of course, the Congressmen of those districts will fight any changes.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
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