Voluntary Separations Save the Day

There are nearly 800 lieutenants in the 2005 year group that can rest easier now because the Air Force received enough volunteers to separate to forestall force-marching some of them out the door. The Air Force had planned to hold a force-shaping board in March, but now says it won’t need to, at least for this year, as the service continues its drawdown to an end strength of 316,000. New Air Staff personnel chief, Lt. Gen. Richard Newton III said in a USAF release that officials “would continue to monitor our end-strength goals to ensure a balanced force and we may elect to use force shaping boards in the future if we need to.” Although service leaders have speculated that they may need to stop short of the planned reduction because of the growth in the ground forces, there has, as yet, been no definitive word.