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Diversity and force management go hand-in-hand

Lt. Gen. Samuel Cox was photographed in the Pentagon on Dec. 26, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jim Varhegyi)

Lt. Gen. Samuel Cox was photographed in the Pentagon on Dec. 26, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jim Varhegyi)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Force management and diversity were the two main talking points for Lt. Gen. Sam Cox, the deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, during his presentation at the Air Force Association monthly breakfast May 15th.

“We’re going to see a force size that’s about the same as when we became a separate service in 1947,” Cox said. “So, by fiscal year 2015, it’s 310,900 active-duty personnel.”

He explained the basic force management programs for volunteer separation and early retirement currently underway, highlighting the fact recruiting is being impacted only by 4 percent.

“Back in 2005, we cut accessions by 39 percent, and we realized that was not a good thing to do,” Cox explained. “We don’t want to do that again, so that’s why we limited this. It’s a measured approach, so we don’t have this huge bathtub that goes through the entire system.”

Cox noted the impact for recruiting will decrease to a total of 14 percent in fiscal 2015, and spoke about the involuntary separations that could be on the way.

“We guarantee we’re going to give everybody six months notification before an involuntary separation board of any kind, and at the time of the decision, four months before you leave the Air Force,” Cox said.

In a discussion on diversity, Cox presented ideas for how the Air Force can continue to attract and retain a wide array of Airmen.

“Let’s give money to a wing commander, and let them reach out to a local high school or community that has science, technology, engineering, and math in their curriculum," Cox said. "Bring them out to the Air Force base; get them in a simulator; take them out on the flight line; give them a box lunch; charter a bus to bring them out there; bring their parents. Because if we get the diversity of this nation brought into the Air Force, that’s how we’ll succeed.”

Cox took note that many Airmen leave the force in order to grow their families, and made a notable suggestion for a retention program.

“Why don’t we have a program that allows, in some cases, to be able to separate from the Air Force for a short period of time to tend to family, professional, or other personal needs, then come back in?" Cox said.

Cox briefly explained the career intermission pilot program, which will test a group of Airmen who will be released from active duty to the individual ready reserve for three years, and come back on active duty, with their time in service uninterrupted.

“It’s going to be a selective board based on quality, it’s not just anybody; we want people who have high potential to be able to do that program,” Cox Said.

Cox’s presentation brought the worlds of force management and diversity into one scope; while the Air Force continues to down size, the recruitment and retention of high quality Airmen is of equal importance.

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