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Reservists may face limit on man-day tours

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFPN) -- Later this year hundreds of reservists nationwide could reach the limit on the number of man-days they can serve in Air Force Reserve Command. 

Reservists through the rank of colonel received permission 3.5 years ago to serve up to 1,095 man-days of the previous 1,460 days in a rolling four-year calendar.

Before Oct. 28, 2004, they couldn't work more than 179 days in a given year without an approved waiver. 

Department of Defense officials and congressional staffers worked together to develop the 1,095-day provision, said Dr. David S. C. Chu, under secretary of Defense for personnel and readiness. It eliminates one of the biggest "impediments to effective Reserve force use and total force integration -- the '180-day rule.'"

The program encourages reservists to volunteer and makes service more predictable for them, their families and their employers.

"Now, a waiver is not required until a member has reached 1,095 days, which helps streamline the waiver process," said Ed Turner, a technician in the readiness operations branch of the directorate of manpower and personnel at AFRC. "We have numerous volunteers and we want to encourage volunteerism."

Before the 2005 National Defense Authorization Act made the program law, Air Force officials would have to take volunteers off active duty if their tours crossed fiscal years so they would not count against the regular Air Force end strength. This process did not guarantee that there would be funds the next fiscal year to pay the reservists.

Since the law has been in effect less than four years, no reservists will be affected by the program's restrictions until October 2008. Mr. Turner said potentially 2,000 reservists on Military Personnel Appropriation man-day orders or Reserve Personnel Appropriation man-day orders will reach or exceed 1,095 days by September 2008. He expects that number to grow in the future.

"This program affects the whole gamut of career fields," he said, "but the majority of those affected come from security forces, operations and maintenance."

Although all MPA man-days, except mobilized days, count toward the 1,095 rule, there are exceptions for reservists on RPA orders.

RPA man-days that count against the 1,095 rule are active duty for operational support, active duty for training for other commanders or due to reimbursable funds, and funeral honors duty.

RPA man-days exempt from the rule are annual tours, initial active duty for training, active duty for training for their commander and non-reimbursable funds, and active Guard Reserve duty.

If a reservist reaches 1,095 days in a 1,460-day period, a waiver is required to work beyond the 1,095 days. Waivers for MPA and RPA man-days are approved by the secretary of the Air Force for manpower and Reserve affairs.

Mr. Turner said the timeline for the Air Force to tell people about the results of this round of waivers is June 2008. 

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