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Air Force Recruiting Specialists
Associated Press  |  November 01, 2006
WASHINGTON - The Air Force is struggling to recruit thousands of linguists, health care professionals and rescue airmen at the same time it is slashing 40,000 other jobs.

With a $22 million advertising campaign that includes splashy television commercials but focuses largely on the Internet, the service is trying to tell young people that the Air Force is still looking to fill critical jobs, despite its shrinking size.

The problem, said Brig. Gen. Suzanne Vautrinot, commander of the Air Force's recruiting service, is that many people have heard the Air Force is chopping thousands of jobs.

"We are hiring. We are absolutely hiring," she said in an Associated Press interview.

To help meet its job-cut targets, the Air Force plans to scale back its recruiting by about 10 percent. It will begin taking in about 27,800 recruits annually, compared with the nearly 30,900 recruited in the year that ended Sept. 30.

Since the Air Force generally meets its recruiting goals, the service may have to either turn people away or redirect some recruits toward jobs more in demand, such as linguists or medical staff.

As part of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's effort to modernize the military, the Air Force must reduce its active duty service members from about 351,000 last month to 334,000 by next Sept. 30, and to 316,000 by 2009.

The Air Force plan would also eliminate roughly 2,000 civilian jobs, and the remainder of the cuts would come from reserves. There would be no reduction in the number of slots in the Air National Guard, though additional savings would come from its budget.

Rumsfeld has argued that a key to building a more agile, better equipped force is to invest in technologies that allow the military to do more with fewer people.

Vautrinot said the Air Force is trying to bring in 1,200 linguists. The job of security officer routinely has the most openings, but she said those posts are easier to fill because they don't require specialized skills.

"We're not going to be the same Air Force only smaller," said Brig. Gen. K.C. McClain, who helps oversee the service's personnel planning. "It's going to be a different Air Force ... (and) we're using the savings to modernize our fleet."

McClain said the challenge is to eliminate jobs without losing needed professionals. Among the positions targeted for cuts are judge advocates general and people working in personnel, logistics and communications.

About 2,000 uniformed and civilian personnel have applied for a voluntary discharge or separation bonus program that started Oct. 1. Air Force officials said they need 3,200 workers to apply for the program by the end of next January.

There also will be an early retirement program offered to certain levels of colonels and lieutenant colonels - with the Air Force hoping up to 30 percent of those targeted take the buyout offer.

The advertising campaign is slightly less costly than previous Air Force media campaigns. It's just a fraction of the $200 million-a-year advertising contract the Army announced recently.

The Air Force campaign boasts its new slogan, "Do Something Amazing." It will send viewers to a Web site where they can view longer videos of service members talking about their jobs. The site includes videos of the service's more elite members, from special operations forces to the Thunderbirds precision flying team.

Officials said they saved money by using real airmen.

In one video, a special operations aerial gunner talks about his job: "(We) go in countries that people don't even know we flew into. Drop people off that people don't even know exist. And pick them back up and bring them back home, and nobody will ever know we were there."

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