Military News

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Commander of ACC visits Beale

by Staff Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo
9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs


1/21/2014 - BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of Air Combat Command, visited Beale AFB and held an Airmen's call at the community activity center here Jan. 14.

During the forum with Airmen, Hostage addressed top issues within the Air Force, such as budget concerns, force management programs and retirement benefits.

"The Air Force has been working hard over the past decade to fulfill its expeditionary mission and still have a stateside mission," Hostage said, in explaining that shrinking budgets have made it difficult to support current operations while training forces to support the full range of combat operations.

Last summer, Hostage observed, sequestration impacts resulted in 17 ACC flying squadrons being temporarily grounded. Recent legislation is intended to provide the funds needed to maintain readiness, but the Air Force still needs to find ways to reduce spending over the coming years.

Hostage said that budget environment is driving personnel reductions and a reorganization of the Air Force.

"The truth of the matter is our Air Force is getting smaller," Hostage said. "Beale will see a lot of change. The good news is that this nation will always require high-altitude ISR, and you're the experts."

The Air Force is slated to reduce its manpower by 25,000 people throughout the next five years.

"In a perfect world, we would be able to accomplish this over time through our normal attrition rates, but we just don't have the budget," Hostage said.

In an effort to reach manpower goals, the Air Force has launched various voluntary force management programs from early retirement to special separation bonuses for Airmen who elect to leave the Air Force.

"It's a way to encourage people who were already thinking about leaving and incentivize them to do so within the allotted time frame to help resolve the issue," Hostage said.

Voluntary programs began Jan. 14, but, if quotas are not met, involuntary separations or retirements are expected to be implemented early this summer.

"Lurking out there are the involuntary programs, from (Date of Separation) roll-backs to reductions in force, all meant to get us down to a size we have a budget to pay for," Hostage said. "Hopefully, with our incentive programs, we won't have to resort to that."

"I truly appreciate your service," Hostage said. "Our military gets to protect and preserve something unique in the world: freedom."

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