Air Force leaders announced changes to headquarters staff manning and organization July 14.
The Air Force will create efficiencies by deactivating and realigning organizations at Headquarters Air Force, major commands, numbered Air Forces and field operating agencies, resulting in savings of $1.6 billion across the Air Force in the next five years.
“I will work to ensure the world’s best Air Force is the most capable at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer, said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. Everyone knows our economy is still not where it should be; we have a responsibility to ensure that every dollar adds value to the taxpayers and our national defense.”
The changes are a result of a comprehensive effort to reduce overhead costs, increase efficiencies, eliminate redundant activities and improve effectiveness and business processes (also known as Air Force Management Headquarters Review). The efficiencies created through the reorganization will also help meet the Department of Defense’s directive to reduce costs and staff levels by at least 20 percent, eliminating 3,459 positions at headquarters across the Air Force, both in country and at overseas locations. As part of ongoing cost savings initiatives, the Air Force will also continue to reduce contract spending, operating budgets and travel expenditures.
To minimize the effect on civilian personnel, the Air Force will initiate Voluntary Early Retirement Authority programs and Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay to foster voluntary reductions before pursuing involuntary measures. As part of ongoing efforts to responsibly shape the force, military members were offered a variety of voluntary incentive programs.
“We are aggressively pursuing reductions within the first year, rather than spread them out over five years as allowed by DOD,” said James. “It’s better for Airmen because it provides them predictability and allows us to re-stabilize our workforce sooner. It also allows us to harvest the savings earlier so that we can plow it back into readiness and some of our key modernization programs.
The Air Force’s goal is to go beyond the 20 percent reduction mandated by the DOD so any additional savings can be achieved from staff functions above the wing level, and set to provide additional combat capability to the combatant commanders.
The Air Force has been making incremental changes in our business practices for the last several years, but we must change the way we are doing business if we are to meet the Air Force’s goal to reduce staffing functions by more than 20 percent, explained Bill Booth, Air Force’s Acting Deputy Chief Management Officer. Reducing higher headquarters’ staffs means we can save money that can be re-invested in getting ready for combat missions at the wing level.
The largest initiative will include centralizing policy and oversight of installation and mission support activities within a newly created Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, which will report to Air Force Materiel Command. Execution will remain at the local level.
The current and projected fiscal climate make it essential to centralize management and streamline support to the maximum extent possible in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness, as well as deliver more standardized levels of service across the Air Force, Booth said. Support functions currently spread across the MAJCOMs’ staffs will be centralized at the AFIMSC.
The Air Force will also make changes to the Headquarters Air Force staff organization by splitting Operations, Plans and Requirements (A3/5) and Strategic Plans and Programs (A8) and reorganizing them into the new Operations (A3) organization which will stand alone and merge the planning staffs into the new A5/8 organization.
Also, the current programming functions from A8 will be merged into the service’s financial management organization (FM).
We will now have an organization, A5/8, that is responsible for developing, managing and constantly assessing an Air Force strategy that is bounded by long-range resource projections and another organization, FM, that deals primarily with the day-to-day budget activities involved in running the Air Force, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III explained. Keeping organizations aligned will ensure we keep moving towards our long-range strategic goals despite the short-term budget upheaval we face regularly.
The Air Force will also realign several functions that currently report to the headquarters in an effort to better support combatant commanders and realign some field operating agencies to operational MAJCOMs, merge FOAs with similar missions and deactivate others.
The Air Force Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency is also being realigned from Headquarters Air Force as a FOA to become part of a new operational numbered air force under Air Combat Command.
Realigning the Air Force ISR Agency into the new 25th Air Force within ACC ensures warfighting commands will have the best possible intelligence from integrated national and tactical ISR capabilities, while appropriately realigning operational activities and “organize, train and equip responsibilities of the AF ISR Agency from execution by Headquarters AF to a MAJCOM.