The Air Force is focused on retaining a diverse and highly qualified force even as it prepares for “almost the largest [force] reduction in a single time period in the history of the Air Force,” said Lt. Gen. Samuel Cox during an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast event in Arlington, Va., Thursday. “We’re going to do this thing quick, so that we don’t have to drag it out over the next five years,” he said. In order to meet the magic number of 310,900 airmen by Fiscal 2015, Cox said the Air Force will use existing force management programs, coupled with a four percent cut to accessions in 2014 and a 14 percent cut in 2015, as well as normal retirements and separations. He reiterated earlier announcements by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, saying airmen will receive at least six months notice before any involuntary separation. Cox said voluntary separation will be the first preference, although involuntary separation will be used when necessary.
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.