Precious Commodities

The Air Force has no plans to grow or reduce, for that matter, the size of its active duty end strength, Air Force Secretary Michal Donley said Tuesday. “Our plan is to hold at about 332,000 going forward,” Donley said during a breakfast meeting with reporters in Washington, D.C. However, inside that fixed-sized force, there are growing career fields competing for manpower, and the service faces the challenge of freeing up the personnel for them, he said. As an example of how this is being done, Donley cited last year’s decision to reduce the size of the fighter force and apply the liberated dollars towards legacy aircraft upgrades and fighter modernization, while shifting the manpower to address growing intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance requirements, including generating more remotely piloted aircraft operators. In that process, “the manpower pieces were just as important as the dollars,” he said.