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Force shaping issues explained to Congress

WASHINGTON (AFPN) --

The Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel testified on force shaping and its effect on Airmen before the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee March 1.

Lt. Gen. Roger A. Brady's testimony was presented to the committee that ensures servicemembers have the resources needed to defend the nation.

"The Air Force began 2006 with a significant force imbalance -- too many officers and too few enlisted Airmen," General Brady said. "To fix this problem, officers under their initial service obligation can now voluntarily separate from active duty service earlier than they would have otherwise been eligible. Some of those who don’t separate will be considered for involuntary separation by a force shaping board later in the year."

The subcommittee voiced concern with the effect force shaping may have on Airmen morale and stress levels. General Brady said he doesn’t foresee any major dips in morale.

“Obviously, morale is an issue we have to consider,” he said. “For that reason, we are finding ways for (those being force-shaped out of service) to still serve.”

He pointed out that emphasis is being placed on programs such as “Blue to Green” that allows Airmen to enter the Army. He said those who still want to wear the Air Force uniform do have opportunities to join the Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard, too.

Though transforming the Air Force will be difficult for some, he said, it’s a transformation that needs to happen in today’s world.

“As we look forward, we have to look at our focus,” he said. “We have to look at where our skills are, and if we are using them efficiently. We’re looking at about 40,000 people (being) cut, but we’ve bounced these numbers against the war plans, and this is what is going to work.”

General Brady outlined the Air Force’s actions involving the force shaping authority granted in the 2005 National Defense Authorization Act.

“Exercising this authority is difficult,” he wrote, “but our guiding principle is simple -- we must proactively manage our force to ensure the Air Force is properly sized, shaped, equipped and organized to meet the global challenges of today and tomorrow.”

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