The Air Force has closed the door on voluntary separation requests since it “is on track to meet end strength goals for Fiscal 2008,” according to a March 17 statement. In January, the service announced that it had cancelled a planned force-shaping board this month that would have targeted some 800 lieutenants. Now, service officials say USAF can take applications for voluntary separation programs through March 31 and voluntary retirement programs through April 30. However, it is holding open the door “indefinitely” for both enlisted and officer airmen to move from the blue to the green (Army). The Air Force says it is still considering its force-shaping plans for 2009. Service leaders have told Congress this year that the planned drawdown to an end strength of 316,000 airmen is too much; they are looking for a way to cap that at around 330,000.
In a nighttime ceremony contrived to continue concealment of many of its features, the new B-21 bomber rolled out of Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif. plant Dec. 2. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the aircraft's advanced technology represents "deterrence, the American way."