The Air Force is recalling most of the nearly 104,000 civilian employees whom it placed on temporary furlough last week due to the federal government’s partial shutdown, announced service officials on Sunday. However, a significant number will still not be able to return, states the service’s Oct. 6 release. The move comes after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Oct. 5 issued a memorandum outlining guidance for implementing the Pay Our Military Act that President Obama signed into law on Sept. 30. DOD interprets the law as allowing it to remove civilians from furlough status who “contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities, and readiness of service members.” But upon their return, they may only perform “excepted” duties necessary for the protection of life and property, states the release. “Everyone’s work supports our airmen, but the mechanics of the legislation is the driving force of who comes back, not the value of the work,” said Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning in expressing his dissatisfaction that many service civilians will remain on furlough. Supervisors on Sunday began notifying civilian employees who are able to return to work, according to the release. (See also AFPS report by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.