Force shaping board to meet in '06
by Master Sgt. Mitch Gettle
WASHINGTON -- A force shaping board will convene in 2006 and continue to meet annually to properly shape the officer corps to meet emerging Air Force needs.
Instituted by the Air Force, the board will be a regular aspect of force management and development in the future.
Authorized by the Secretary of the Air Force, the board convenes at the Air Force Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base in April.
Force shaping efforts started in 2004 and evolved in an effort to meet congressionally mandated fiscal year end strength requirements and maintain a balanced force.
"The force shaping board is another aspect of our force management and development," said Brig. Gen. Glenn F. Spears, Air Force director of force management policy. "We must have a balanced force of officers and enlisted Airmen to meet the missions of today and tomorrow."
The Air Force began fiscal year 2006 with a force imbalance. It was under strength by approximately 6,000 enlisted and over strength by approximately 3,000 officers.
A current excess of nearly 4,000 officers -- primarily from the 2000 to 2004 commissioning years -- make worse the imbalance and has a long-range impact on the effective development of the officer corps and the ability to access sustainable numbers of enlisted Airmen. Despite an aggressive voluntary force shaping campaign, the Air Force has not achieved the balance of officer to enlisted Airmen through existing voluntary means.
Congress recently gave each service secretary increased authority to proactively manage their junior officer corps through force shaping efforts.
"The Air Force values the service and sacrifice of all Airmen who volunteer to serve, and separating officers is a difficult decision that we do not take lightly," General Spears said. "This first force shaping process will 'select-in' approximately 7,800 line officers commissioned in 2002 and 2003 to continue to serve in our active Air Force."
Eligible officers may continue to apply for voluntary separation until March 1, 2006 using the force shaping initiatives already approved.
Subsequent boards will consider officers commissioned three years earlier. For example, the 2007 board will evaluate officers commissioned in 2004.
"We value the service of all our Airmen," General Spears said. "Voluntary force shaping initiatives, and the force shaping board, are key aspects of our force management and development.
"Our Airmen have many opportunities to serve -- in the Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard, as Air Force civilians or in the Army," the general said. "We encourage Airmen in the affected year groups to pursue those opportunities to continue service to our great nation."