Air Force Reserve pilots, maintainers, space operators and cyber specialists who want to quit the service will have to stay in uniform for at least six months under a plan to address critical skills shortages.
The involuntary service commitment is to ensure that the Air Force Reserve meets recruiting and end-strength goals, according to a memo on the policy that went into effect Sunday.
Airmen will be forced to stay only if they voluntarily reassign to the Inactive Ready Reserve, volunteer to separate or be discharged, or will retire before Sept. 30, the Air Force Reserve Command said in a statement Tuesday.
"This is not a stop-loss, but merely an extension of service for six months while we transition to onboarding Citizen Airmen and most importantly, the success of the mission supporting the Nation's defense," the statement said.
Airmen whose reassignments, discharges or retirements were approved prior to April 1 are not affected, according to the memo published on the Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page the day before the policy took effect.
Airmen who are transferring to an active-duty component, have reached high-year tenure, or are on conditional release to the Air National Guard are also unaffected. Those who are being involuntarily separated or discharged from service will not be retained.
America's improving job market means more opportunities for people in the private sector, the command said in its statement.
"To compete with these new opportunities there are recruitment, retention and relocation benefits as some of the compensation options available to Reserve Citizen Airmen," it said.
Other retention incentives include a pathway for airmen to commission as officers and career advice, the statement said.
"Our purpose is to retain as many experienced Reserve Citizen Airmen as possible through the end of the fiscal year to provide seamless integration of duties in accomplishing our mission to compete, deter and win," the statement said. "The Air Force Reserve is committed to building our future leaders and preserving a lethal force for the defense of our nation."