The Air Force is seeing its highest retention rates in 16 years thanks to the weak job market. As a result, active duty end strength remains bloated above Congressionally authorized levels. At the end of Fiscal 2010, the tally was 334,196, but officials are working to get that number back down to the authorized 332,800 by the end of Fiscal 2012. “In an effort to minimize the impact to our current force, we will reduce active duty accessions as much as is prudent,” Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told airmen at Whiteman AFB, Mo., this week, in addressing the service’s strategy. He added, “In addition to the previously announced voluntary programs, we will also implement involuntary programs to include enlisted date of separation rollbacks, officer retention boards, and reduced officer promotion opportunities.” (Whiteman report by Heidi Hunt) (See also Early Retirement Possible for Some Officers and USAF’s 2011 posture statement; caution, large file)
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."