The Air Force has been meeting its recruiting goals, but the Air Staff’s top personnel officer, Lt. Gen. Richard Newton tells lawmakers that last year enlisted retention “fell short about eight percent below the goal.” Conversely, he noted that officer retention was about 11 percent over its goal. Newton on Feb. 27 was making his first appearance as the new personnel chief before the Senate Armed Services personnel panel. He noted that among those enlisted fields not reaching their retention goals were air traffic controllers, Middle-Eastern crypto linguists, and specialists in structural civil engineering, pavement and construction equipment, vehicle operations, and contracting. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) expressed the belief that USAF is “sort of at a dilemma here,” saying the service is five percent short of where it needs to be in terms of personnel. (See above, “A Likely Conclusion”) One obvious question is whether the drawdown has affected retention. Newton acknowledged that USAF had made “a conscious decision” to decrease personnel to pay for system recapitalization, but he added that the service had provided Congress recently with a new number for the required force vs. the programmed force. The required Force, he said, “appears to be about 330,000” starting in Fiscal 2010. (Newton also had made the argument for new Total Force numbers in testimony before the Senate’s counterpart panel in the House.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.