Editor’s Note: The “People First” section is compiled from information from the Air Force Personnel Center, TRICARE, 56th Force Support Squadron, Airman and Family Readiness Flight, Veterans Affairs, the civilian personnel office and armed forces news services. For the complete story, go to the web address listed at the end of the story.
The Defense Department released a new instruction Jan. 22 that details its updated policy on making religious accommodations requested by service members, Pentagon spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen said.
A DOD instruction implements a policy or prescribes the manner or plan of action used to carry out a policy, operate a program or activity, and assign responsibilities.
“The new policy states that military departments will accommodate religious requests of service members,” Christensen said, “unless a request would have an adverse effect on military readiness, mission accomplishment, unit cohesion, and good order and discipline.”
When a service member requests such an accommodation, he said, department officials balance the need of the service member against the need to accomplish the military mission. Such a request is denied only if an official determines that mission accomplishment needs outweigh the need of the service member, Christensen said.
Requests to accommodate religious practices will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, the spokesman noted.
The Air Force will convene a fiscal 2014 Force Shaping Board here July 14 to consider eligible officers within competitive categories for continued retention, Air Force Personnel Center officials said Monday.
Categories include line of the Air Force, LAF-judge advocate, biomedical sciences corps, dental corps, medical service corps and nurse corps.
The purpose of the board is to retain officers whose careers illustrate suitability for continued service and future leadership roles, said Lt. Col. Rick Garcia, the AFPC retirements and separations branch chief.
“The board will make its determination using information such as selection briefs, performance reports, training reports and decorations,” Garcia said. “The board will also consider officers’ retention recommendation forms and any letters submitted by eligible officers to provide additional relevant information that is not included in other documents.”
Contrary to some news reports, there are no plans to close military commissaries, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
But Army Gen. Martin Dempsey added that the budget environment is forcing the department to look for savings anywhere possible.
The chairman first addressed this issue during his Facebook town hall meeting last month.
The Joint Staff did not ask the Defense Commissary Agency to come up with a contingency plan to close 100 percent of U.S. commissaries, senior military officials said. Officials did ask the Defense Commissary Agency for a range of options, including how the system would operate with reduced or no taxpayer subsidies, the chairman said, noting that military exchanges work on this system and that the same potential exists with commissaries. In the most recent year, the Defense Commissary Agency received $1.5 billion in subsidies.
“But we haven’t made any decisions,” the chairman said. “We’ve got to drive toward greater efficiencies, and this is just one of the potential areas.”
The Bipartisan Budget Act, which President Barack Obama signed earlier this month, alleviated some of the sequester pressure on the department through fiscal 2015.
The Air Force will convene an officer reduction in force board June 16 to evaluate eligible officers for retention, Air Force Personnel Center officials said Monday. Officers who meet the RIF board and are not selected for retention must separate by Jan. 31, 2015.
RIF is among several fiscal 2014 force management programs that have been or will be implemented to help achieve manpower and force structure goals as the service focuses on 2015 and beyond, said Lt. Col. Rick Garcia, the AFPC retirements and separations branch chief.
Prior to convening the board, the Air Force will accept applications from RIF-eligible officers for the voluntary separation pay and Temporary Early Retirement Authority programs.
RIF-eligible officers may apply for voluntary separation pay between Feb. 6 and May 1. Those approved will receive 1.25 times the standard full separation pay and may apply for separation effective Sept. 29, Garcia said. Officers who meet the RIF board and are selected for separation will be entitled to full separation pay. To review VSP eligibility and application instructions, go to myPers and enter PSDM 14-08 in the search window.