According to Lt. Gen. Mark Shackelford, the military deputy for Air Force acquisition, the Air Force fills about 70 percent of the contracting manpower positions for the joint force in Afghanistan and Iraq. Responding to a question about areas needing assistance during a House Armed Services oversight and investigations panel hearing last week on the defense acquisition workforce, Shackelford pointed to that high usage rate as one with potential retention problems because the service’s contracting specialists are in a “one-to-one dwell ratio,” spending as much time forward deployed as at their home station. He said the service already has a bonus program in place for enlisted airmen in contracting fields, but it also plans to pursue one for officers. Shackelford said: “We’ve got a low-density, high-demand workforce—one that has skills that are usable on the outside. I would like to keep as many as we could.” In fact, he added, “I would like to get more so that we can just robust that entire community.”
A majority of panelists convened by the Atlantic Council to assess the situation in Ukraine believe that Russia will have enough forces—and recent practice in Belarus—to invade Ukraine within a month. A senior Air Force official concurred, saying the service expects the conflict soon.