Air Force 'Aggressivly Pursuing Reductions' Through HQ Reorganization, Buyouts

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."