The Air Force is deactivating and realigning organizations at its headquarters, major commands, numbered air forces and field operating agencies, resulting in savings of $1.6 billion in the next five years, Air Force officials announced today.
"I will work to ensure the world's best Air Force is the most capable at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer," said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said. "Everyone knows our economy is still not where it should be. We have a responsibility to ensure that every dollar adds value to the taxpayers and our national defense."
The changes are a result of a comprehensive effort to reduce overhead costs, increase efficiencies, eliminate redundant activities and improve effectiveness and business processes, also known as Air Force Management Headquarters Review, officials said. The efficiencies created through the reorganization will help to meet a Defense Department directive to reduce costs and staff levels by at least 20 percent, eliminating 3,459 positions at headquarters across the Air Force, both in the United States and overseas, they added.
As part of ongoing cost-savings initiatives, the Air Force also will continue to reduce contract spending, operating budgets and travel expenditures.
To minimize the effect on civilian personnel, officials said, the Air Force will initiate Voluntary Early Retirement Authority programs and Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay to foster voluntary reductions before pursuing involuntary measures. As part of ongoing efforts to responsibly shape the force, military members were offered a variety of voluntary incentive programs.
"We are aggressively pursuing reductions within the first year, rather than spread them out over five years as allowed by DoD," James said. "It's better for airmen, because it provides them predictability and allows us to re-stabilize our workforce sooner. It also allows us to harvest the savings earlier so that we can plow it back into readiness and some of our key modernization programs."
The Air Force's goal is to go beyond the 20-percent reduction mandated by DoD, officials said, so any additional savings can be achieved from staff functions above the wing level and set to provide additional combat capability to the combatant commanders.
"The Air Force has been making incremental changes in our business practices for the last several years, but we must change the way we are doing business if we are to meet the Air Force's goal to reduce staffing functions by more than 20 percent," explained Bill Booth, the Air Force’s acting deputy chief management officer. "Reducing higher headquarters' staffs means we can save money that can be re-invested in getting ready for combat missions at the wing level."
The largest initiative will include centralizing policy and oversight of installation and mission support activities within a newly created Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, which will report to Air Force Materiel Command. Execution will remain at the local level.
"The current and projected fiscal climate make it essential to centralize management and streamline support to the maximum extent possible in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness, as well as deliver more standardized levels of service across the Air Force," Booth said. Support functions currently spread across major command staffs will be centralized at the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center.
The Air Force will also make changes to the headquarters Air Force staff organization by splitting Operations, Plans and Requirements, or A3/5, and Strategic Plans and Programs, A8, and reorganizing them into a new Operations, or A3, organization that will stand alone and merge the planning staffs into the new A5/8 organization. The current programming functions from A8 will be merged into the service's financial management organization.
"We will now have an organization, A5/8, that is responsible for developing, managing and constantly assessing an Air Force strategy that is bounded by long-range resource projections and another organization, FM, that deals primarily with the day-to-day budget activities involved in running the Air Force," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III explained. "Keeping organizations aligned will ensure we keep moving towards our long-range strategic goals despite the short-term budget upheaval we face regularly."
The Air Force also will realign several functions that currently report to the headquarters in an effort to better support combatant commanders and will realign some field operating agencies to operational major commands and will merge forward operating agencies with similar missions and deactivate others.
The Air Force Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency also is being realigned from headquarters Air Force as a forward operating agency to become part of a new operational numbered air force under Air Combat Command.
Realigning the Air Force ISR Agency into the new 25th Air Force within ACC ensures warfighting commands will have the best possible intelligence from integrated national and tactical ISR capabilities, officials said, while appropriately realigning operational activities and the agency’s "organize, train and equip" responsibilities from execution by Headquarters U.S. Air Force to a major command.