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Guard and Reserve are recruiting airmen hit by force cuts

Aug. 18, 2014 - 06:16PM   |  
Air mobility contingency response force mobilizes
Mobility pilots (Tech. Sgt. Parker Gyokeres/Air Force)
  • Filed Under
Aircraft loadmasters (Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez/Air Force)
Civil engineers (Staff Sgt. April Quintanilla/Air Force)
Pararescue (Staff Sgt. James Harper Jr./Air Force)

Keep these benefits

In addition to bonuses, here are four other benefits available to airmen looking to leave active duty for the Guard or Reserve:
1. Earn credit toward retirement. Airmen in the Guard and Reserve who reach 20 years of service are eligible to receive retirement pay beginning at age 60.
Airmen who were recalled to active duty after 2008 may reduce their retirement date by three months for every 90-day period that they were activated.
Health care. Airmen in the Reserve can enroll in Tricare Reserve Select. Tricare Reserve Select allows qualified reservists and their families to receive care from any Tricare-authorized provider. It requires users to pay a monthly premium, and it costs the user more than Tricare Prime, but annual deductibles can be as low as $50.
The plan is available worldwide and meets the minimum essential coverage under the Affordable Care Act, according to the Tricare website.
3. Commissaries and more. Airmen who transition to the reserve get to keep their military identification cards, giving them access to military posts and commissaries.
4. Tuition assistance. Continued service in the Reserve means airmen remain eligible for tuition assistance, freeing them up to transfer their post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to a family member.

The Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard are recruiting active-duty officers in these career fields:
11H: Rescue pilot
11KX: Trainer pilot
11MX: Mobility pilot
11RX: Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance pilot
11SX: Special ops pilot
11UX: Remotely piloted aircraft pilot
12XX: Combat systems officer *
12MX: Mobility combat systems *
13BX: Air battle manager
13D: Combat rescue officer
14NX: Intelligence officer *
21RX: Logistics readiness officer *
32EX: Civil engineer *
48AX: Aerospace medicine specialist
* Career fields that are overmanned in the active forceSource: Air Force

The Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard are recruiting active-duty officers in these career fields:
1A0: In-flight refueling
1A1: Flight engineer *
1A2: Aircraft loadmaster
1A4: Airborne operations
1B4: Cyberspace defense operations
1N0: Operations intelligence
1N1: Geospatial intelligence
1N2: Signals intelligence analyst
1N4: Network intelligence analyst
1T0: Survival, evasion, resistance and escape
1T2: Pararescue
1U0: Career remotely piloted aircraft sensor operator *
2A5: Aerospace maintenance
2A6: Aerospace propulsion *
2A7: Aircraft metals technology *
2T2: Air transportation *
3D0X3: Cyber surety
3E3: Structural *
3E5: Engineering
3E8: Explosive ordnance disposal
3P0: Security forces *
5R0: Chaplain assistant
6C0: Contracting
* Career fields that are overmanned in the active forceSource: Air Force

The 'help wanted' sign is out for airmen facing the prospect of losing their active-duty jobs in the Air Force — or whose nerves are so frayed after surviving this year's aggressive round of force cuts that they've decided it's time to call it quits.

The 'help wanted' sign is out for airmen facing the prospect of losing their active-duty jobs in the Air Force — or whose nerves are so frayed after surviving this year's aggressive round of force cuts that they've decided it's time to call it quits.

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The “help wanted” sign is out for airmen facing the prospect of losing their active-duty jobs in the Air Force — or whose nerves are so frayed after surviving this year’s aggressive round of force cuts that they’ve decided it’s time to call it quits.

The Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard are looking to fill some of their most critically needed jobs with experienced airmen, and they’ve sweetened the deal for airmen who might not be ready to walk away from military life for good.

Among the incentives:

■ Big bonuses for airmen in high-demand fields.

■ The opportunity to retrain in a new job.

■ A position waiting when you leave active duty.

■ The chance to serve out an active-duty commitment while transitioning to a civilian job.

The Reserve and Guard are looking to gain from the active Air Force’s losses, which have been steep this year: 20,000 active-duty airmen have left, or will leave, by spring, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said at a State of the Air Force briefing on July 30. The Air Force must reduce its total number of active-duty airmen from 330,000 this year to 307,000 over the next five years.

The airmen leaving active duty are prime targets for recruitment into the Guard and Reserve through two programs: Palace Chase, which is for airmen to serve the remainder of their active-duty commitment in the Guard or Reserve; and Palace Front, for airmen who have already served their commitment and want to stay in uniform and avoid a break in service.

This month, in a force management update, personnel officials urged active duty-airmen to consider making a move to the Reserve or Guard.

“Make no mistake about it, the Air Force Reserve loves to access fully qualified airmen who can contribute to our mission from day one,” said Col. Chris Nick, commander of the Air Force Reserve Command Recruiting Service.

Bonuses for the Reserve

The Air Force Reserve has typically been closely connected to active-duty airmen, with more than half of all new reservists over the past five years having active-duty experience, said Master Sgt. Shawn Jones, spokesman for the Air Force Reserve Command Recruiting Service.

For the Air Force Reserve, the critical force needs include positions such as pilot, and aircrew and battlefield airmen. These positions traditionally have been difficult to fill across the Air Force because of harsher requirements. But the changing role of the service itself has opened up new jobs as well.

“Most of the career fields on the list are historically harder to fill than other career fields, which is primarily due to increased qualification requirements for the positions,” Jones said. “However, some of the career fields on the list belong to missions that are growing in the Air Force Reserve, such as cyberspace defense and cyberspace support.”

Airmen in these critical fields can see big money if they go through the Palace Front program. For enlisted airmen, bonuses range from $7,500 to $20,000 depending on career field and length of contract, Jones said. The biggest bonuses are for flight engineers, airborne operations, operations intelligence, geospatial intelligence, aerospace maintenance, cyber surety, explosive ordnance disposal and contracting.

An airman who qualifies for a six-year contract in one of the most in-demand career fields, such as aerospace maintenance technician, would receive the $20,000 bonus, while a shorter contract in a less in-demand career field, such as two years in security forces, would qualify for a $7,500 bonus.

“While it is important for us to recruit the career fields on our critical skills list, we have openings in almost every career field,” Nick said.

Officers who can see incentives of $10,000 are those going straight into the Reserve without a break in service, or those still serving their obligation in the individual ready reserve. Career fields eligible for bonuses are most categories of pilots and combat systems officers. Like enlisted, the bonuses are only for Palace Front applicants.

Commissioned health professionals are eligible for the biggest bonus payments: from $30,000 to $75,000, or student loan repayments ranging from $50,000 to $160,000.

The active-duty Air Force also is offering bonuses for critical skills. Eligible fighter pilots, for example, can receive $225,000 in Aviator Retention Pay if they stay in for nine more years, or $125,000 for five more years.

And intelligence officers can get bonuses of $12,000, $20,000 or $30,000 depending on grade, years of commissioned service and bonus option they select for a commitment of two to three years.

But the active force faces both undermanning and overmanning issues in the intelligence field. The bonuses are for eligible captains and majors, while younger officers — those entering service in 2011 and 2012 — are eligible for voluntary force management programs, according to the Air Force. The Reserve and Guard, meanwhile, are recruiting those threatened by the cuts.

The Reserve will release a new critical skills list early in the next fiscal year, which determines which jobs get the highest payout.

New needs in the Guard

Like the Reserve, the Guard faces career field shortages in its 140 units nationwide.

Currently, the critical needs are rated aircrew; battlefield airmen; intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance; health professionals; security forces; aircraft maintenance; and cyber technology, National Guard Bureau spokesman Capt. John Fesler said.

The Guard is offering cash to recruit airmen, with bonuses of up to $20,000.


While all components are working to keep airmen in high-demand career fields, such as cyber security and battlefield airmen, some of the active-duty airmen targeted for early outs or involuntary separations could fit into some critical needs in the Guard or Reserve.

For example, the Air Force Reserve is looking for flight engineers, an active-duty career field that was overmanned by 21 staff sergeants and two master sergeants in June, according to Air Force data. The active Air Force had identified 180 staff sergeants and 86 master sergeants who were vulnerable to involuntary force shaping action.

Another example of an in-demand career field in the Reserve that is facing cuts on the active side is air transportation, with an active-duty overage of 29 airmen and another 96 airmen vulnerable for force-outs. The Reserve also has job openings for enlisted airmen in security forces, metals, structural and remotely piloted aircraft sensor operators — all career fields that lost active-duty positions this year.

There’s a similar story for several officer career fields — for example, combat systems operators. The active duty has an overage of 26 mobility combat systems officers, with another 104 eligible for separation, who could move to the Guard and Reserve, where those skills are in demand. Other career fields that are overmanned, at least to some extent, on the active side but in demand in the Guard and Reserve, include intelligence, civil engineers and logistics readiness officers.

The Air Force is currently reviewing its entire force to see which missions can be transferred to the Guard and Reserve as a way to save money.

The service expects to have 80 percent of that review done by the end of the year, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said at the State of the Air Force briefing.

“We will come up with additional missions, additional capabilities, that we would ask our Guard and Reserve to assume in the future,” James said. “... You’ll see us embed into policies and decisions and whatnot, the concepts of more empowerment for our Air Force airmen, our members; more continuum of service, the flow between active, Guard and Reserve and back in a more seamless way.”

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