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Air Force: Manpower unevenly distributed

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (March 03, 2004) -- Air Force leaders said manpower within the service is unevenly distributed.

While testifying March 2 before the Senate Armed Services Committee subcommittee on personnel, Michael L. Dominguez said the service is in the process of rebalancing its manpower resources. He is the assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs.

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"(We) have developed a comprehensive, coherent human-resources plan that will guide our efforts to relieve the stress on our force and to transform that force so it can more effectively meet the demands of the global war on terrorism," Mr. Dominguez said.

Part of the unbalance in manpower resources is that there are not enough airmen assigned to the jobs the Air Force needs done, said Lt. Gen. Richard Brown III, the deputy chief of staff for personnel.

"Currently, we have too many people in some career fields, and at the same time, we don't have enough in others," General Brown said. "We are going to take steps to shape our force as we get back to our authorized strength. We need to do this smartly and need to avoid Draconian measures that break faith with our people. Our goal, if possible, is to give every airman the possibility to stay in the Air Force."

A key component of the reorganization begins with an emphasis on an Air Force core competency: developing airmen. Education and training will be a focus of the reorganization plan.

"Over the past year, the Air Force has implemented a new method of developing our force," General Brown said. "Force development combines focused assignments, and education and training opportunities to prepare our people to accomplish the mission of the Air Force. Rather than allowing chance or happenstance to guide an airman's experience, we take a deliberate approach to develop officers, enlisted and civilians throughout the total force."

The Department of Defense's National Security Personnel System’s approval was also critical to the manpower reorganization. The system's flexibility, Mr. Dominguez said, allows the Air Force to modernize its civilian personnel management system and to expedite military-to-civilian job conversions.

"The (new system) is a critical component of our plan," Mr. Dominguez said. "The modern management concepts included in that plan provide flexibility and agility needed to integrate our civilians … fully, completely and seamlessly into our total force."

In response to questions about over-dependence on Air Force Reserve forces, Mr. Dominguez told committee members he did not think the reserve component was being unduly tasked.

"(Reserve airmen) are totally integrated into what we do, and we cannot do our job without them," Mr. Dominguez said. "We are not overusing them. There are elements of that force that we are (working) pretty hard, but they are not being overused."

Also discussed during the testimony were service efforts to support families of deployed airmen, benefits for the Guard and Reserve, retention, benefits of selective re-enlistment bonuses and the beginning of the expeditionary force.

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