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Increased mission requirements open doors for continued service

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force is introducing several personnel and manpower initiatives to meet increased mission requirements outlined in the fiscal year 2016 President’s Budget.

In order to enhance operational and mission capacity in support of combatant commanders, and to maintain readiness, the Air Force is setting a minimum active-duty force level of 317,000 as established in the fiscal 2016 President’s Budget submission. The Air Force is undergoing a concerted effort to stabilize and grow the force by fiscal 2017, to include addressing key gaps in the nuclear, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and support career fields.

The Air Force is using the most direct way to grow the force by increasing the accessions of enlisted Airmen entering basic military training and the numbers of officers being commissioned. To complement those efforts, the Air Force is also offering opportunities to retain key experience and increase operational manning levels through targeted voluntary high year of tenure (HYT) extensions, Voluntary Limited Period of Active Duty Program affording opportunities to members of the Air Reserve Component to serve an active-duty tour, and Direct Duty Prior Service Enlistment Program opening doors for prior-service enlisted members to return to active duty.

The focus of these programs is to increase the number of experienced Airmen in undermanned specialties such as nuclear, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and special operations. The Air Force specialties covered under these programs were not eligible to participate in any of the targeted fiscal 2014 voluntary or involuntary force management programs. The one exception was the Quality Force Review Board, where all Airmen with some negative quality factors were considered regardless of their specialty.

“While we are working to increase our overall number of Airmen, we particularly focused on adding mid-level experienced Airmen in some of our currently undermanned specialties to help meet mission requirements immediately,” said Brig. Gen. Brian Kelly, the director of military force management policy.

The new programs being launched are designed to meet the need for experienced Airmen in critically undermanned specialties such as nuclear, cyber, intelligence, remotely piloted aircraft and special operations.

Voluntary HYT extensions are being offered to senior airmen, staff sergeants, technical sergeants and master sergeants in targeted specialties; however, Airmen will only be approved if recommended for the extension by their unit commander or civilian leader. The length of the extension can vary depending on each Airman’s situation. Specific details on the fiscal 2015 HYT extension program will be released by AFPC and available via myPers May 18.

Opportunities to serve an active-duty tour for a period of up to three years will be offered to members of the Air Reserve Component in targeted Air Force specialties. The Voluntary Limited Period of Active Duty Program allows the Air Force to increase experience in mid-level grades by leveraging trained Airmen from the Air Force Reserves and Air National Guard. These Airmen will receive the same benefits as active-duty Airmen, such as qualifying for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, while serving a tour on active duty. Further information, such as which grades and specialties are eligible, will also be available in the coming weeks.

Under the Direct Duty Prior Service Enlistment Program, applicants must have separated from the active-duty Air Force, or be separated from or currently serving in the ANG or Air Force Reserve in the grade of senior airman through technical sergeant as a fully qualified 5- or 7-level in one of the designated Air Force specialties. Army, Navy or Marine Corps service members may also be eligible if they served in a career field equivalent to one of the specialties targeted in the fiscal 2015 program. Under this program, applicants are not eligible to receive a reenlistment bonus.

Airmen interested in applying for HYT or the Voluntary Limited Period of Active Duty Program are encouraged to review the additional eligibility details on myPers. Prior service members interested in Direct Duty Prior Service Enlisted Program can find information at http://www.airforce.com/contact-us/faq/prior-service/ or contact their local recruiter.

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