That’s how officials with Air Force Reserve Command’s 908th Airlift Wing in Alabama describe the situation facing the wing which has tried for more than two years to fill nearly two dozen full-time air reserve technician positions, principally in aircraft maintenance and related specialties, reports the Montgomery Advertiser. Maj. Alfred Proulx, the wing’s maintenance squadron commander, told the newspaper, “We have severe shortages in the workforce.” Col. Michael Underkofler, 22nd Air Force chief of staff, said that combined efforts of AFRC and the wing are trying to recruit former aircraft maintainers, like crew chiefs and avionics technicians. Underkofler noted that the individuals they are seeking “are people with a very specialized background and who possess skill sets that are not easily found.” He and Proulx acknowledge that part of the problem is low pay, which in the Maxwell AFB, Ala., area, where they unit is based, has a lower civil service rate than in other parts of the state. Proulx said Reserve officials are working to boost relocation and recruitment bonuses, currently restricted to only some maintainers, and wage rates, as well. In the meantime, Lt. Col. Jerry Lobb, 908th AW spokesman, said the wing’s traditional Reservists have been filling in, but he told the Advertiser that it’s a less cost effective and less efficient way of maintaining the wing’s C-130 fleet.
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.