CAPITOL HILL: Readers won’t often read about Reductions In Force in Breaking Defense because they usually aren’t strategically significant, but the latest Air Force announcement that 1,000 civilians face lower pay, new jobs or may lose their jobs is indicative of the service’s dire budget straits — before sequestration.
Congress, which has been hearing rumors about the RIFs for weeks, got the news in a late afternoon email today from the Air Force’s congressional liaison office. While this isn’t exactly a sign that the service is going hollow, it does indicate that the pressure remains intense to lower personnel costs.
It will affect about 60 Air Force installations. “This action is NOT related to sequestration,” says the email from Col. Steven Basham, chief of the House Liaison Office. “Because every installation has unique situations that will provide opportunities to reduce the number of civilians in unfunded positions, we cannot estimate how many employees may be involuntarily separated by the RIF until the process closes on 23 August 2013. All civilians will receive at least 60 days notification prior to involuntary separation and will continue to be offered job openings for which they qualify until separation.”
The service has already rebuilt or cut 15,000 jobs as part of the famous efficiency drive started by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Of course, the service also pared some 30,000 active duty personnel on top of that.
In one of his four op-eds on the service’s future that Air Force Secretary Mike Donley penned for our readers, he argued:
Faced with further reductions in defense, Air Force leadership made the decision to become smaller in order to protect a high quality and ready force that will improve in capability over time.
Now the civilian force is getting smaller again. Since there is almost nothing House lawmakers hate more than losing defense jobs in their districts, Basham was careful to promise to “keep you updated as additional information becomes available.”
You betcha, colonel!