Starting next week, the Air Force will begin to reinstate bonus programs and process orders for some permanent change-of-station moves that had been paused due to a lack of personnel funds.
The Selective Retention Bonus, Aviation Bonus, Assignment Incentive Pay, and Foreign Language Proficiency Pay programs will all be reinstated, according to a service release.
Additionally, PCS orders for Airmen with a departure date before the end of the fiscal year—Sept. 30—will be processed and approved, with the goal of every Airman having their orders 30 days before their departure date. That will cover the busy summer months known as “PCS season.”
Some moves remain delayed or pending; the Air Force statement said the service will be in touch with Airmen whose departure dates are after Oct. 1. And Airmen on long tours overseas, such as those accompanied by their families, whose “Date Estimated Return From Overseas” (DEROS) fell between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 will still be delayed until January-March 2024.
But the announcement largely reverses changes that had caused widespread concern among troops since they were announced July 10. Air Force officials said they were reviewing all pending PCS orders with a departure date starting Aug. 1 and not accepting new entrants into several bonus programs because the service was in danger of “exhausting funds” in its military personnel account.
Officials told Air & Space Forces Magazine the shortfall was caused by higher-than-expected PCS costs, a result of inflation, and higher retention and recruiting bonuses. The service had submitted requests to Congress to shift funds around, but the “reprogramming” requests were not promptly approved.
The holdup in Congress was the result of a political fight over the permanent home of U.S. Space Command. Colorado Democrats accused House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) of holding up the reprogramming request to force a basing decision on the headquarters for U.S. Space Command, which is under review by Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall after years of controversy.
On July 19, Rogers approved personnel-related reprogramming requests, a spokeswoman told Air & Space Forces Magazine, clearing the way for the Air Force to reinstate PCS moves and bonuses.