When to Say Ouch:

Lawmakers questioned both the Air Force and Navy recently about their continuing efforts to supply personnel to serve as “in lieu of” soldiers, wondering when it will begin to affect service readiness—or if it has already. The Air Force provided its first ILOs—some 1,900 airmen—in Fiscal 2004 and today the number is almost 6,300. Over the past four years, the service has supplied some 22,000 ILOs, according to Brig. Gen. Hoot Gibson, who commanded USAF’s first ILOs in Southwest Asia and now serves as the Air Staff’s director of current operations and training. However, the number pulled from Air Force duty, as the service continues drawing down its force size by some 40,000 airmen through 2009, is not the only issue. About 13 percent of these ILO airmen are serving outside their “core competency,” Gibson told the House Armed Services readiness panel. The cost of retraining those airmen and their loss from their core competencies “impact overall readiness and our ability to respond to unforeseen circumstances,” said Gibson. (Written testimony.)