Demystifying Force Management

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jarad A. Denton
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
It comes down to an issue of numbers - the Air Force's Force Management programs are being expanded in order to maintain the maximum number of personnel authorized by Congress.

"Force management, in a nutshell, is when the Air Force analyzes, structures and balances the force to meet mandates established by Congress," said Tech. Sgt. Chris Simmons, 28th Bomb Wing Judge Advocate NCO-in charge of military justice.

Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, indicated in a letter to Airmen that Air Force retention was at a 15-year high - despite having such a high operations tempo. He said Force Management would be used to correct imbalances between overmanned career fields and career fields with critical manning shortages.

"Although it will be a challenging time, our goal is to minimize the impact on Airmen currently serving," General Schwartz said in his letter. "We are reducing accessions for both officers and enlisted Airmen while expanding voluntary separation and retirement programs to try and protect those currently serving. Where possible, we will cross-flow Airmen from overmanned career fields into those that are undermanned, and, where appropriate, we will implement involuntary measures."

When the fiscal year 2010 Force Management program was announced in Nov. 2009 it was met with less volunteers than expected. Therefore, the FY2010 and 2011 Force Management programs include both voluntary and involuntary aspects.

"More than likely an Airman who conforms to military standards and does a good job will not be affected [by involuntary Force Management]," said Sergeant Simmons. "The Air Force will look for volunteers first and seek out non-volunteers as a last resort."

Sergeant Simmons said when the Air Force is making determinations for involuntary force management separation, they will look at Airmen who do not meet the standards required by the Air Force, as well as individuals who detract from good order and discipline and are unable to accomplish the mission. While Airmen who fall under force management are typically honorably discharged, involuntary Force Management can have a substantial impact on an Airman's life and career after the military.

"If an Airman had intentions to stay in the military to complete an education, serve 20 years, obtain a skill or earn a steady paycheck, their plans will be cut short," he said. "Many of the new enlistees, to include officers, joined the military due to the bad economy. Some of these Airmen might have thought their enlistment would be over around the same time the economy bounces back. However, if they could not conform to military standards then the idea of riding out the economy by joining the Air Force will turn out to be a dead end."

An Airman may be eligible for Force Management if certain codes appear on their personal record during the established timeframe.

· 4H Serving Suspended Punishment Pursuant to Article 15
· 4I Serving on the Control Roster
· AAC12 Article 15 Punishment
· AAC16 Control Roster

For a complete listing of date of separation rollback criteria, visit the Air Force Personnel Center, DOS rollback page, or contact the 28 BW Legal Office at (605) 385-2383.

According to Sergeant Simmons, the Air Force is currently operation under DOS rollback phase three - and will continue force management programs until Congressional mandates are met.

Phase three is defined by the following criteria:

· Airmen must have less than 14 years of total active federal military service as of Aug. 31, 2010, or 20 years or more TAFMS on or before Aug. 31, 2010; and
· Airmen must have a date of separation of Aug. 31, 2010, or later; and
· Airmen must possess at least one of the codes listed on the DOS rollback phase three website which expires on or after Aug. 31, 2010, or must have been denied reenlistment by their commander under the FY10 DOS Rollback.

"A list of eligible members is sent from the AFPC to each base," he said. "The squadrons are notified of affected people and the different options to either retain the member or let the DOS rollback initiative take effect. The goal here is for the Air Force to achieve the set number required the balance of force."

Certain infractions on an Airman's record don't fall into a standardized plan for Force Management. For instance, Airmen who receive driving under the influence charges are handled on a case-by-case basis at Ellsworth.

"If the case results in non-judicial punishment, such as an Article 15, the Airman's record will be coded to reflect the Article 15," said Sergeant Simmons. "Keep in mind there are other criteria out there that the Airman must possess for the Air Force to consider as part of force management."

Sergeant Simmons encourages Airmen to realize the bottom line is the Air Force operates like any other business. In order to accomplish its mission it needs qualified, competent and highly motivated Airmen.

"The military is structured as such to ensure we retain only the best," he said. "This isn't a one-mistake Air Force; however, each Airman is held accountable for their actions. Everyone in the Air Force was taught the core values and how to incorporate them into a successful career. As for those Airmen who choose not to live by the core values, the Force Management program will, more than likely, be showing up at your doorstep."