The Air Force is cutting thousands of manning and organization officers, and creating a new numbered Air Force to oversee intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, the service announced today.
A total of 3,459 positions will be cut in an effort to save $1.6 billion over the next five years. The move comes about a year after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel directed the services to cut headquarters staff by 20 percent.
“I will work to ensure the world’s best Air Force is the most capable at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer,” Air Force secretary Deborah Lee James said in the announcement. “Everyone knows our economy is still not where it should be; we have a responsibility to ensure that every dollar adds value to the taxpayers and our national defense.”
The Air Force Management Headquarters Review is centered on deactivating and realigning organizations at headquarters, along with major commands, numbered air forces and field operating agencies.
“We are aggressively pursuing these cuts within the first year, rather than spread them out over five years as allowed by DoD,” James said. “It’s better for airmen because it provides them predictability and allows us to re-stabilize our workforce sooner. It also allows us to harvest the savings earlier so that we can plow it back into readiness and some of our key modernization programs.”
The service cannot yet announce who will be cut, pending notifications of each staff member. It has provided a map breaking down the reductions, with the largest being a reduction of 742 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. Another 734 will be cut from the Pentagon.
The biggest change is creating the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, reporting to Air Force Materiel Command, which will handle installation support. Currently, installation support is handled at each major command. The new headquarters, at a location yet to be decided, will have a staff of 350.
The Air Force will merge the responsibilities of some staff from the operations, plans and requirements (A3/5) and strategic plans and programs (A8) and create a new operations office. Current programming functions in the strategic plans and programs office will fall under the Air Force’s financial management organization.
For the first time since the creation of 24th Air Force in 2009, the service will create a new numbered Air Force. The Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency will now be 25th Air Force, aligned under Air Combat Command. The headquarters will be at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, and will oversee all training and operations of ISR aircraft.