Four-Star Consolidations Coming

The Air Force will propose consolidation of its four-star general ranks, looking to reduce the dozen officers at that rank to nine or 10, with announcements possible within the next four months, a senior Air Staff official told Air Force Magazine. The service is in the process of briefing Congress on some of the proposals, which include making the commanders of Air Education and Training Command and US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa three-star billets. If approved, any changes would take effect after AETC Commander Gen. Robin Rand and USAFE-AFAFRICA Commander Gen. Frank Gorenc move on from those jobs. It’s tricky, though, the official said. “Downgrading a four-star job to a three-star in a (congressional) district is like a BRAC move,” a reference to the always-controversial Base Realignment and Closure process, the Air Staff official said. Congressional delegations from the affected districts “are not happy about it,” he added. Another possible consolidation would be making the chief of US Transportation Command and the head of Air Mobility Command a dual-hatted job, as it once was, although the TRANSCOM job “doesn’t count against us,” since it’s a joint billet, the official noted. Also, look for more two-star generals to be appointed as vice commanders of major commands instead of three-stars, something that is already starting to take place. USAF is planning a 20 percent reduction of headquarters staff over the next year, four years ahead of the 2019 deadline set by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to make such a trim.