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Air Force Tweaks Force Shaping Plan

The Air Force is back in force shaping mode with new windows for applying for early retirement or separation and expanded waivers that open the programs to previously ineligible officers.

The service called a "strategic pause" to its early retirement and separation programs in March to consider changes. The programs are intended to ultimately trim the Air Force by up to 25,000 airmen -- officer and enlisted -- over the next five years as it deals with mandatory budget cuts.

Retired Air Force Col. Mike Hayden, director of Government Relations at the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), told Military.com in March -- when the programs were put on temporary hold -- that "drawdowns are always bought ugly."

They are expensive to put together and they are more expensive when they are voluntary rather than involuntary, he said.

The Air Force Personnel Center announced two new application periods for the Temporary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Pay programs. The first, which also began Tuesday, will run through May 13.

That window is open to airmen who were not able to apply during the original application period because they did not meet eligibility requirements for waivers on active-duty service commitments, deployment status or because they were serving a short tour.

The second application window will run from May 22 to June 30. This one is specifically for officers who can expect to meet a reduction in force board in October, the personnel center announcement said.

Under the expanded early retirement program, active-duty service commitment waivers are now available for rated officers and those in the educational and health career fields, the center's announcement said. The new authorities eliminate previous limitations to the existing voluntary programs, it said. A complete listing of active-duty service commitments eligible for waivers under the voluntary programs -- both TERA and VSP -- is available at the myPers website, via the Air Force Portal

Information on which service commitments may be given a waiver under voluntary programs, to include TERA and VSP, is also available on the myPers website.   The announcement also said that enough colonels have been approved for voluntary retirement programs as to eliminate the need for some Enhanced Selective Early Retirement Boards scheduled to meet in June.

The Biomedical Sciences Corps and the Medical Service Corps, as well eight Air Force Specialty Codes in the Line Air Force -- 13C, 14N, 17D, 21M, 21R, 32E, 38P and 71S -- have been cancelled, the personnel center said.

The Line Air Force specialties still slated to meet a board include 11B, 11F, 11H, 11M, 11R, 11S, 12B, 12F, 12M, 12R, 12S, 13B, 13M, 13N, 13S, 15W and 31P, the center said.

Among airmen eligible for Voluntary Separation Pay -- those with more than six years active duty but less than 20 -- the personnel center has received 936 officer and 6,488 enlisted applications. Of these, about 68 percent of officers and 83 percent of enlisted met eligibility criteria.

Eligibility also requires the airman be serving in an overage AFSC. Most of the ineligible applications are from airmen serving in non-eligible AFSCs.

The original VSP -- which is still open until May 1 -- has already approved 275 officer and 2,471 enlisted airmen for early separation.

So far 2,132 enlisted TERA applications have been approved and 323 officer TERA applications.

-- Bryant Jordan can be reach at bryant.jordan@monster.com

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