Force Mismanagement: AFPC Botches Retirements, Airmen Caught in Crossfire

Update: according to an Air Force news release issued Tuesday afternoon (April 8th), those airmen who received emails revoking an offer of early retirement will be offered retirement after all.  Anyone impacted should stay in close touch with the chain of command, push for and expect answers from AFPC, and keep this thread informed if rhetoric and reality do not converge.

Airmen who employ airpower know how unforgiving it can be.  It’s about precision.  Releasing a weapon from an aircraft one second too early or late can have lethal consequences on the ground, including fratricide or the loss of a battle.  Airpower is also about communication. Confusion or inaccuracy in messages can result in paratroopers being dropped into a hail of enemy fire or wounded warriors bleeding out as rescue helicopters fly to the wrong coordinates.  But it’s also about morality.  Executing unlawful orders or applying combat power in violation of rules of engagement can undermine an entire war effort.

The Air Force has long understood these principles.  It has also understood until recently that these principles cannot thrive unless they thrive universally and continually.  Airmen who don’t practice, experience, and immerse in a culture of precision, clarity, and morality can’t be expected to exhibit these qualities in combat.  In the last few years, the Air Force has allowed these notions to become secondary, and in some cases outright abandoned them in pursuit of imagined efficiencies or advantages or as a function of simple organizational neglect.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the conduct of the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC), which has recently undertaken a rolling chronicle of unprecedented malpractice, leaving airmen frustrated, uncertain, and increasingly disinterested in wearing a blue uniform.

The Air Force has a drawdown to execute, and AFPC is mangling it.  Badly.  General Mark Welsh and Secretary Deborah Lee James have told airmen to expect transparency and straight talk.  They seem to want good faith to be a guiding principle during the drawdown.  AFPC is upending this notion.

The Service Chief and Secretary say they want fair dealing in the drawdown, but it has been elusive thus far.

The Service Chief and Secretary say they want fair dealing in the drawdown, but it has been elusive thus far.

Most recently, airmen anxiously awaited the April 1 scheduled release of early retirement decisions.  Most had applied in January only to weather a season of shifting expectations.  Eligibility criteria changed and changed again.  Expected numbers of approvals were not given, leaving people unable to establish firm criteria to evaluate career options.  Commanders were cut out of the AFPC loop and therefore clueless.  As April approached, airmen had their spirits buoyed by the idea that whatever their fate, it would soon be known.  If approved to retire, they would have to be out of the service before August.  This is not much time to re-purpose and re-direct an entire life and family, so as April approached, anticipation built, with airmen spring-loaded to snap into action once their fates were decided.

But then, April arrived and it turned out that “deadline” was just a “guideline.”  AFPC released an updated timeline giving itself until the end of April to notify airmen.  A few got approval notices, but most continued to wait, each day eating into an already compressed period of time between notification and mandatory separation from the service. The unspoken message from the center was “just kidding.”

In some cases, this meant severe consequences for those who had pursued employment leads and reassured potential employers they’d have a final answer on the ability to commit to a job by April.  A few have shared stories that are heartbreaking in terms of potential lost opportunity.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation, family health care, and school arrangements hang in the balance as AFPC handles Air Force families haphazardly.

As the first week of April culminated, a couple thousand approvals were reported to have been given.  AFPC didn’t explain why it was late.  In fact, it didn’t explain anything.  Even the approval emails were sparing, pre-formatted, and anonymous.  But they were a start, and airmen began to slowly exhale as it appeared AFPC might finally get rolling.

But then, for some airmen, everything unraveled again.  This time, it felt like a cruel joke.

Airmen began receiving "take-back" emails late on April 4th.

Airmen began receiving “take-back” emails late on April 4th.

Late in the day on April 4th (just before AFPC closed its doors and unplugged its phones for the weekend), notices began going out to airmen retracting previously approved retirements, explaining that approval had been “erroneous.” They’d been given permission to retire, allowed to act on it for a few days, and then informed AFPC was “taking back” that approval. In some cases, this second notice came after the acceptance of a job offer or the hiring of a real estate agent.  Spouses gave notice at work or accepted new jobs.  In some cases, child care providers were given notice and told to find new jobs.  In other cases, approval drove commanders to change deployment or assignment plans. In many cases, the changes made were irrevocable and had financial strings attached.  In almost every case, the retraction email came after an airman had informed family of a huge life change, only to have to change their reality again and leave them wondering what might happen next.  Deployed airmen were not spared in this debacle.  As they struggle to focus on combat operations while keeping family back home up to speed, AFPC has added a layer of stress and distraction to the rigors of combat, forcing many to call home and deliver news certain to knock the wind out of spouses and children who, just a few days before, were encouraged to plan for the future.

With this round of “false positives” the mangled AFPC drawdown went from being a huge annoyance to a soul-crushing engine of uncertainty.  No one involved knows what’s going to happen to them, and everyone is now concerned that even an official notice of approval or rejection isn’t solid ground for planning.  Those who have been told they won’t be subject to involuntary measures later in the year no longer trust that notion.  Everyone is beginning to take nothing for granted.  All is in doubt.  When that starts to happen, it becomes a game of everyone for himself/herself, and everyone starts hedging to protect livelihood and family.  This is no way to run a military fighting force. But given some of the examples being shared on social media, uncertainty and hedging among airmen is understandable.

Some airmen applied for early retirement, waited three months to be notified, and were declared ineligible.  In some cases, these airmen appeared eligible according to AFPC’s own eligibility matrix.  Some engaged with the center after being declared ineligible and had that decision reversed when AFPC’s bureaucrats realized a mistake had been made.  Some airmen went through this “false negative” process multiple times in order to stay in the game and are still awaiting a final answer.

Other airmen applied recently and were quickly approved, while others in their organizations who are similarly situated have been waiting months and heard nothing.  This seems like a violation of fairness, and raises questions about how the process is being run within AFPC.

Many applied under the belief they were eligible only to find out they never had any chance of approval.  This meant they published their desire to leave the service frivolously, and doing so invited intangible career jeopardy.  Commanders seek to maximize investment in those who are committed to a long-term career.  This is not a morally correct management practice, but it is pervasive nonetheless. I watched haplessly a couple years ago as my own performance report got downgraded as a direct result of applying for retirement.  Had that retirement later been disapproved, I would have been stuck in a career with diminished potential.  Many thousands of airmen now face that prospect as a result of listening to their own senior leaders, who assured them of fair dealing.

Welsh2Amid all this chicanery, AFPC has not communicated with airmen.  No apology was given for late notifications, including the thousands yet to be issued.  No real explanations were given for false positives or false negatives.  The center doesn’t answer phones or respond to emails, and this leaves airmen with no way to resolve inconsistencies or ambiguities.  Even the egregious “take-backs” are not signed by an individual person with a phone number who can be called for further explanation. The most important and pivotal decisions impacting the careers of airmen and the trajectories of their families are being made, and no one is working to keep them informed.   Gen. Welsh’s promise of transparency and professionalism has been made empty.  Now, as mistakes pile up, Welsh’s inaction is making many airmen believe he is either aloof to the problem or tacitly authorizing AFPC’s tactics.

AFPC 1Tragic as this debacle is, it should not surprise anyone.  AFPC has a commander in name only, and is not a true military organization.  It’s more like a cross between a commodity exchange and a post office, executed with the bedside manner of an insurance company.  People are facelessly traded like pork bellies and their lives and careers sorted, labeled, and passed along an electronic conveyor.  When the time comes to inform them what the “system” has decided to do with them and their families, they get an impersonal email rather than an in-person notification from a commander.  This is true not just of the drawdown process, but of assignments, deployments, school selections, and promotions.

In other words, the most important processes impacting airmen have been removed from the chain of command and consigned to a noticeably underperforming human resource bureaucracy.  No one is accountable for how people are being treated, since a “system” is in charge rather than a leader.  Commanders have lost critical “touch points” with their people, and this has driven a wedge between the leadership element of the service and those it seeks to lead.  Morale is plummeting. By many accounts, the service is coming apart.  Not because of the stress of combat, but because of its own decision to treat airmen like undignified commodities rather than people with stories, families, and souls deserving of fairness, humane treatment, and genuine care.

Uncertainty is perhaps the most powerful stressor.  It creates sleepless nights, blurred focus, and degraded performance.  It is an engine for organizational toxicity.  In theory, human resource agencies are designed to combat this uncertainty by giving people a clear path, solid criteria, and prompt, straight answers from human beings.  But AFPC’s performance is antithetical to these principles and to the Air Force’s own core values. This is no way to treat people.  Airmen know that, and they’re increasingly weary of tolerating it.  The April debacle is rumored to be triggering scores of letters to congressional representatives, which is a sign airmen are giving up on the idea of the service dealing with them fairly and seeking remedies outside the chain of command.  This could land the service an appearance on Capitol Hill to explain itself, which would only further degrade focus and performance at a tough moment.  This is quite a price to pay in lieu of firing AFPC and putting the drawdown into the hands of competent commanders, as was suggested recently on these pages.

“As Air Force senior leaders, we commit to transparency; we will share information as early and often as possible” was the sentiment reflected in a January senior leader newsletter on the subject of force management. General Welsh says the service’s core values are more than just slogans.

In response, airmen across the globe have an answer: “prove it.”  AFPC doesn’t have to be competent and doesn’t have to deal fairly and transparently with airmen.  This leads them to conclude that integrity and excellence are irrelevant at the key nexus of the Air Force’s relationship with its airmen.

Welsh needs to reconcile his statements with AFPC’s behavior, because this is clearly no way to treat people.  Sure, some of them are leaving anyway, but their peers and friends are watching.  Their children are watching.  Short-term mistreatment of people can have long-term consequences in the ability to field the best fighting force.  Besides, it’s just not the right way to deal with people.  The Air Force once understood this.

It also once understood that precision, communication, and morality were not just things to be practiced in combat, but important cultural features — things that had to be practiced all the time if they were to be present when most critical.  Let’s hope the service rediscovers this idea, and soon.  It could start the journey back to honor by firing AFPC and putting the drawdown in the hands of commanders who are accountable for the way they treat people.   But the most important move Welsh can make at this moment is to immediately cancel the AFPC retraction letters and salvage a few shreds of credibility.  After all, in what rational universe are “take-backs” allowed with respect to approved retirements as a matter of bureaucratic convenience?  Not in any universe with a viable value system.

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  • MountainBoomer

    Thanks for this article, Tony. I knew when I first saw the rumblings on Facebook that you’d be able to articulate the collective frustration quickly and professionally. It feels like from a personnel management (and, dare I say, leadership?) perspective, the USAF seems to be bent on self-destruction. Where’s Hillary’s “Reset” button?

    • Anonymous

      Just read story on Stars and stripes that afsc’s have been updated as of friday for those no longer able to apply for voluntary pgms…the roller coaster ride continues..

  • Reggae

    JQP…On time on target! The CSAF’s words are empty rhetoric….snake oil and used cars! Seems the core values are not represented at the core. If he doesn’t act on this, then he needs to go! I find the email in your article more salacious than any possible seven year old email that got a CV fired. While there was not intercourse involved in CV email scandel, the recipients of the late Friday email from AFPC actually got screwed! Will we see firings 7 years from now. Surely there is a sacrificial Airman or NCO we can hang this on to make an example!
    SECAF….the time to act has passed you by…do something…say something…put accountability in the system I implore you!

    • Brandi

      Sacrificial Airman or NCO? An Airman or NCO did not make the decision to retract the retirement and should not be “made an example of”. The ridiculousness of this whole mess falls on the shoulders of those with much higher rank and THEY are the ones who should be held accountable. And it starts with the CSAF.

      • Reggae

        That was my point…sorry you missed it. I will be more direct and less nuanced in the future.

  • AJ

    I find it highly ironic that while reading this article that my mind kept returning to the one responsibility that many of us have been working to remove from military commanders – to decide whether a sexual assault case will move forward to trial. Military commanders keep telling us that they will lose control over the morale and welfare of their troops if they lose the ability to make this single decision. Yet here you tell me that they have lost control of the morale and welfare of their troops already, at least in the Air Force. They have no direct contact with their troops over the very things that matter – whether they will stay or go.

    Our Air Force seems to have lost it’s way on so many issues. And commanders seem to be arguing to keep the very things they don’t need while they’ve allowed the rest of it to be slowly chipped away.

  • Maj BOHICA

    And they wonder why SO many people want out…

  • Joe

    It wasn’t an airman or NCO that made the decision to robot out those message unless it was a culture set by much higher leadership. The unaccounted-for weapons out of Minot were a result of the culture of the officers and this is too. A failure to lead is a decision to not lead.

    • Reggae

      Joe that is the point exactly…sorry for the sarcasm vice a direct approach. I know that it was not an NCO or airman, but sticking with a current opinion shared by many that enlisted are held accountable while officers skate.

      Get it?

      • TheQ

        Only in your little fantasy land.

        • Reggae

          You only have to look at the news de la journèe to see the MTI get hard labor and the General who admitted to crimes with a subordinate walk to see the underpinnings of my response. So not so much fantasy, but stark reality!

          • Anonymous

            It would only take a good solid look at military legal outcomes, which are now public, to see that Reggae is correct…rank and position often determines a member’s fate….unless we get lucky and someone is tried by the state. Military justice is a misnomer…

          • Anonymous

            Just remember a fish always rots from the head first…

  • DoTheRightThing

    I’d like to see the CMSAF get involved…beyond posting Roll Calls
    committing to “transparency and sharing information as early and often as
    possible.” Step up and help the troops or resign.

    • Anonymous

      Don’t hold your breath

    • Alan Carter

      Cody is getting ready to retire at the mandatory 30 year mark and he’ll be collecting his big fat 75% pension along with his already-retired E-9 wife. He couldn’t care less about helping the troops because he’s not going to do anything that could jeopardize his retirement. His only legacy will be his mindless “chief chats” and “roll calls”.

    • Anonymous

      Cody didn’t do squat for AETC and he won’t be any different in his new position…he’s a placeholder. I wouldn’t even bother studying about him when the PDG writes him in….

  • George Washington


    About five or six years ago, in a widely-read Air Force forum, I made the comment that some people “are too good for the Air Force, or better than the Air Force.” The context was about retiring or separating from the Air Force, and I was trying to suggest that people have abilities and talents that can far exceed anything the Air Force can offer. Well, almost unanimously, I was shouted out of the forum for suggesting that any individual could be too good for the Air Force. If I were to post the same comment today, I doubt even one person would defend the Air Force. More than likely, many would agree with me that they are too good for the Air Force organization.

    Part of the problem with AFPC and with the Air Farce in general is that employees’ duties are so narrow that no one person, not even the directors, can fully see systemic problems. Adding to that, the sheer volume of records and databases is so gargantuan that once a problem has set in, it is too overwhelming to fix. The VA has the same problem. Employees have been there too long that this situation is “ops normal.” Firing some leaders won’t fix it. This is the kind of problem that takes a motivated contract team to deep clean before returning the business back over to the careerists. Seriously, the USAF needs to hire an outside agency. Let them fully understand staffing the Air Force, the various ADSC contracts airmen sign, and let them use modern computer programs to plug numbers and to communicate with the Air Force. No more of these bullcrap AFPC matrices, or ridiculous websites that don’t work with most browsers, or robot emails.

    Lastly, for all those who are thinking about leaving the Air Force, know this. YOU ARE WAY BETTER THAN THE AIR FORCE. A reliable, self-designed life is yours for the taking after you leave the Air Force, whether by separation or retirement, whether this year or in 10. Do NOT settle for what the Air Force offers. You are better than that.

    • Loggie

      Here here. There are people that are better than the Air Force, but they are hampered and retricted by leadership to make any viable changes to processes or procedures.

    • hadituptohere

      Thanks George, you are absolutely right on all levels. I am an experienced SNCO and have seen firsthand the plight of the capable at the hands of the +20 year lingerers that have no hope of a significant career outside of the structure. It wasn’t until the last couple of years that I realized that I really am better than the AF, and that it is actually holding me back. Ive had it man. I’m going to do a great job until my 20 and then get the fuck out.

      There is no way in hell the AF could convince me to keep selling cupcakes for the Top 3 with the hope that I might be looked upon more favorably by those that supervise me. These same people will be asking me for a job when they retire.

      • frustrated

        My thoughts exactly.

      • retiredandglad

        i was in your shoes 5 years ago, wouldn’t plan parties or sell cupcakes. I retired and was making 100K within 2 years. Never realized how far back i was being held…

      • Stokes AK

        Hadituptohere, if you are feeling that you are better than the AF, why stick around until 20? Oh that is right, the retirement benefits that come at 20 from the very same organization that you are ripping. If you don’t like it and the life isn’t for you anymore then move on and be happy with your decision. I too am an experienced SNCO. I have had things go my way and things not go my way over the last 22 years. That is life. Some join for the benefits, some just to have a job, and some even join to serve their country. If you choose to depart the AF at 4, 6, 10, or however many years I will simply say thank you for your sacrifices and your service. If you are waiting to jump at twenty when you are truly better than our service you are in the same group of lingerers that you so hate. Seems crazy to me to hate the system that you are conveniently waiting on for a couple more years to pay you a check for the rest of your life.

        • A passionate NCO

          Amen Stokes AK!!! What a sense of entitment so many generations share!!! This is the culture that frightens me! The I’m owed more than I really deserve!!! I did my time and the military owes me NOTHING!!! If your “to good for the AF” than move on and flourish! Don’t hang around for your retirement focusing on what you’ll do in your next chapter in life instead of putting the focus on you and not the task at hand (fixing the problem for the next generation of Airman)! If your a SNCO telling Airman to get out instead of fixing the problem so they have a better chance at the Air Force you envisioned than your just as big of a problem as AFPC! As a SNCO you have a voice that your Airman and NCO’s don’t so use it or step aside!

          • Neccesity

            Wow!! Where did entitlements enter the frey? This article is about accountability and integrity. Please entertain us with your thoughts on how entitlements and AFPC are connected. I can rightfully assume a majority of people on this site have put in more than their fair share of work and only ask for truth in return.

        • William Anger

          Recognizing a system is flawed and attempting to recoup the money and benefits that you were promised are two different things. As an NCO I would rather have a SNCO admit that there are problems and be willing to fix rather than the blatant flagrancy that you back a broken system with. “If you don’t like it get out” isn’t a solution. You sir are part of the problem and one of many reasons that I no longer believe the Air Force cares about it’s “core values” or its people.

          • Prophet

            Agreed. Where do these Kool Aid drinking people come from? Do they not look around/pull their eyes from AF Portal to ask how the people of the squad really feel?

    • Anonymous

      You are so right. After 11 years and supposedly over the legendary “hump”, I realized that not only can by degree and skills earn me almost twice as much money on the outside, but I will also have free time to finish my PhD and earn even more. I can earn more than I make sitting on my ass and doing stuff online. Why stick it out for a retirement and benefits that will probably be no more reliable than social security…

    • Figanootz

      Amen George! I am better than the USAF! This is not the same USAF I joined 25 years ago and I am not the same person I was 25 years ago. I was drawn to the USAF because of all the high tech toys and was less interested in the people. Now those feeling are reversed and I care more about the people than the toys. Seems the Air Force’s feelings have also reversed. They care more about high tech toys than people. People are what put the Force in Air Force and yet leaders and Commanders are very limited in what they can do to protect their people. They are being taken out of the loop at every turn.
      After 25 years you can imagine that I have seen a lot. When I was a young airman I used to dream of what I could do if were General for a day. 25 years later I know that being General isn’t enough to fix much anymore. I can do more on the outside than in.
      I used to tell those that were getting out that grass isn’t greener on the other side, its just different grass. Now I know that its not just different but it is better and if I don’t like it I can change it.

      • Anonymous

        You’re better than the USAF after 25 years? You’re part of the problem. Service before self….

        • Figanootz

          I think after 25 year I have more than met service before self. The problem is the USAF expect service at the expense of self.

          • Prophet

            Well put!

  • TooBigToFunction

    Yet another Systemic Problem in the Air Force, how many until it’s a problem with the entire Air Force.

  • Still Waiting

    I’m not a lawyer, but an official notification of approval for retirement sounds like a binding legal agreement to me. You’re completely right that the only path forward is to follow through on the initial notifications. AFPC needs to live with the consequences of its decisions.

    • TheQ

      It sounds to me like an actionable legal standing.

      • Cooper

        Except that active duty members cannot sue the military in cases like this. There is no legal remedy available to any individual or group. The chances must come from our own leadership, who are the ones turning the blind eye already, or downward-directed from congress.

        • Cooper

          “Changes,” not “chances.”

  • George Washington

    Organize, Train, and Equip.

    CSAF, you need to RE-organize this sh!tshow ASAP. That means putting control back into commanders’ hands, not a bunch of staff weenies in Texas and the Pentagon. It means having an orderly, logical way to increase or reduce the numbers. That logical way should be communicated clearly and publicly, so we don’t get whiplash as AFPC jerks us around week to week. It means getting rid of careerists, SHRINKING AFPC and A1 to a lean, highly intelligent, open, reliable machine that CARES about people, works with commanders, and is held accountable! Right now, it’s too fukking big and that means loss of accountability, and out of control bureaucracy that causes more harm than good.

    Then you need to equip AFPC with modern software. These personnel problems, while complex and subject to great change, are easily trackable with good software and smart people to run the software. There is simply no excuse whatsoever for the Air Force having and publishing inaccurate numbers. Get some of your smart people in there to fix this crap. More personnelists are not the answer. They are the problem.

    Train BETTER people. Take a handful of your smart SAAS and AWC grads, some engineers and pilots and maintainers (anyone but personnel folks), explain the problems and challenges, give them full access to everyone and everything at AFPC and A1, and let them fix this broken system, eliminate harmful processes, eradicate toxic leaders, etc.

    • MountainBoomer

      Caring about people is hard, which is why so few in positions of power appear to do so. Further, I think most promotions are based on numbers like “increased on-time takeoff rate ten percent” without asking, “at what expense to your subordinates?”

  • Over cooked

    Follow me on this thought. When this is all over with, and the Air Force writes into its own history books about what it is that is happening now I assure you that what it is that IS going on will not be said to have happened at all. Any sting felt from the morale-retention-quality of force fallout as a direct result of these types of shenanagons while the hog is fat will be strategically attributed falsely to some other “causal factor” that will allow the Air Force to continue to not look itself in the eye and thus take responsibility for what it has become. I like so many followed in the footsteps of family generations before me into the life of military service. That tradition ends with me. Although ultimately their choice, I shall do all I can to dissuade the service of my children. Too much… for too long.

    • Anonymous

      I hear ya! I was a huge “un official” recruiter for the AF…my family has served since WWII…my nephew is finishing up tech school now as me his uncle of 22 yrs in AF gets fucked and not even gets a “reach around”…my advice to him is to get his education outta the way ASAP cuz when the AF gets their use outta you, they will discard you like yesterday’s newspaper..

  • EpicFail

    Lt. Gen. Sam Cox, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services…”When we first announced our force management programs, we noted the dynamic environment would certainly result in changes as we balance being responsive to Air Force needs with remaining fair, understandable and transparent for our Airmen,” Cox said. “Clear and quick communication of any future changes to the field will be a continuing priority.”

  • MountainBoomer

    AFPC has apparently been broken for a long time. I remember working my second assignment, quoting chapter and verse from a reg explaining what I was trying to do. The personnelist on the other end of the phone said it didn’t apply, because an older reg had different guidance. His exact quote was, “A good personnelist never throws away an outdated reg.”

    In the flying world, you would be quickly disqualified for outdated pubs.

    • MountainBoomer

      This was in 2001.

    • Rick Shay

      What you don’t realize is there’s the AFI’s and then there’s the internal AFPC policy that is what the AFPC weenies have to follow. I know, 25 years personnelist and I stayed out of AFPC because they stay there most of the their career and don’t know what it’s like at unit or base level.

      • MountainBoomer

        Internal policies…more of that “transparency” I keep hearing so much about, I suppose. :/

  • Dale

    A “system” removes the accountability of the individuals involved in implementing the “system”. It provides plausible deniability and allows them to perform poorly without being personally responsible. It is always the “system’s” fault and individuals, especially senior leaders, never have to shoulder any of the responsibility for relying on a highly flawed and unresponsive system.
    As for “transparency”, it depends on your definition of transparency.

  • 1-Term Wonder

    What strikes me most about this whole sordid story is summed up in one word: impunity. It’s the same impunity with which my own chain of command denied us food, housing, and sick call. People act with impunity precisely because they CAN, because they know they are either accountable to no one, or that they have “cover” from the favoritism in their own chain of command.
    I used to study the Soviet Union, and even spent a summer term at Leningrad State University. Soviet communism was an authoritarian bureaucracy. It was the kind of society where pharmaceutical companies would fill medicine bottles with water and ship them out to hospitals, just to make the factory’s production quota and “look good.” The Air Force reminded me a lot of the Soviet Union. Militaries are also authoritarian bureaucracies. I think it’s time we stopped trying to pretend that they are not. Authoritarian bureaucracies are dysfunctional societies that constantly pit the interest of the individual against the interest of the mission and the group. Their various levels play against each other like a dragon eating its own tail. They drain most individuals of integrity, reward careerism and the ethic of “self before service,” produce chains of favoritism, and are rampant with sadism, abuse, and callous disregard. They are incapable of regulating or “fixing” themselves.
    I believe one answer to the impunity of AFPC and the military services as a whole may be more civilian oversight. Replace the IG and the criminal division of the OSI with DOD civilians NOT employed by the parent service and NOT subordinate to any commander. Maybe this would give airmen a resource to defend themselves from the bureaucracy and their own commanders that would not require them to take issues all the way to Congress. If these civilians were directly subordinate to a separate oversight body with the power to discipline, fire, and file criminal charges against the practitioners of impunity within the military, airmen may finally have some venue of self defense. And when the issues went beyond a single installation, all the way to the top, like this botched draw-down, this independent oversight board would have the authority to either fire General Welsh, or recommend his firing to the Congress.
    It certainly wouldn’t solve everything, but would it be a start?

    • Red, White, and no longer Blue

      This is one of the best perspectives of the cultural issues of the Air Force I have ever read. Sadly, this exact reasoning is why I became bitter about my term and looked forward to the end of my contract. Far too many times I could see the dragons biting their own and other’s tails. I walked out the gate on March 1st of this year having given some of my best work and plenty of my sanity. I never considered reenlisting because of these pitfalls and I found myself being too good for what the Air Force let me do (see above comment from George Washington at 2:28pm).

    • Anonymous

      I really like where you’re going but it’s my personal experience that civilian OSI agents don’t do a whole lot. They mostly sit around all day and leave at 1530 to go to the gym while the military agents get loaded with the civilian agents’ work, and the civilian agents collect a six figure salary while their military counterparts often have a higher education level….now, if you make all agents civilian you may make a difference…..

  • Hoops

    Will the supreme irony in the end be, that by crushing people’s souls and tainting any remaining love they had for serving in the AF, this will be a banner year for force shaping. Surpassing any quota/goals to reduce AF numbers (perhaps for a generation). Could this have been part of some nefarious strategic plan all along? Never mind…sorry…to purposely plan something this diabolical it would have taken intelligence and forethought.

    …unfortunately this continues to validate a comment I made when the old CoS and SECAF were fired: that the AF as we know it has maybe 20 yrs of life left, then will be disbanded and chummed bucketed out to the army and navy. Sorry, but “Joint Basing” was just a Trojan Horse, the beginning of the end.

  • Rob C

    We have held multiple caree fields and leaders accountable in the past six months for wrong doings and inefficiencies. SECAF and CSAF it
    Is now time to do the same for this career field. At this point, no action sends a very loud message that ONLY operations squadrons are held accountable by the AF core values.

    • George Washington

      Amen. You’re right. They are failing and need to be fired. Again, though, the personnel systems are broken and, besides firings, some deep cleaning is needed. Nothing is more frustrating about being an operator than knowing you are regularly held to a higher standard (granted, being incompetent in operational work can cost lives) than the shoes, and at the same time have to learn their own regulations better than themselves, and at the same time have to compete against their best people (who are, at best, no better than midrange operators) for promotion and school slots.

  • Justice

    If anyone at AFPC is to be fired, please let them do so via email COB on a Friday.

    • Tip Tank

      ^^^Even that’s too nice. Let them see their names on a slideshow at some staff meeting…

    • George Washington

      Good idea. Better yet, if they are due to PCS, give them a great assignment to another cushy unaccountable desk job. Then do a “takeback.” Simultaneously, plug their discharge date into the system, with no email notification. Send an email 30 days before final out, reminding them to take care of the outprocessing checklist, and reminding them that core values apply through their final days.

      It will be a rude wakeup…on their way out of the Air force.

      • Rickey Shay

        80% of personnelists never leave San Antonio, AFPC, AETC, Base level, Unit level. If they do ever PCS they go to a unaccompanied short tour and get right back to San Antonio. Ever look at how the other services to Military HR? Army is all civilian now. I dont hear this kind of crap from the Army,…

        • Anonymous

          Many at AFPC are Lockheed Martin Contractors.

  • 1-Term Wonder

    A Lesson Learned Early –
    I’m not optimistic that anyone at the level of AFPC will ever be held accountable for this. I have seen individual officers be fired – my first operational commander was fired after his assault on our mission and people finally resulted in a catastrophic mission failure. But when it comes to the bureaucracy, to “the system” – it is entirely immune. Even individual commanders can be immune if “the system” happens to be behind them.
    I learned this in basic training. It was the winter of 1982. As our flight marched around Lackland, we noticed civilians in black raincoats standing on street corners, watching us march. Our TI’s were remarkably honest with us about these guys, who I thought looked a bit like crows. Apparently, several years ago, there had been a Rubella outbreak on the base. Lackland was quarantined: no one pcs’d in nor out. A woman I once knew had actually been there at the time and actually had Rubella. She said they had to convert the day rooms into sick bays, and the TI’s were reduced to playing nurse-maid to all the sick. The virus quickly spread to the civilian community. San Antonio had to close its schools. Elderly people were killed. The CDC traced the outbreak to Lackland, and cited its spread as caused by a common practice in the training units. Apparently, TI’s would regularly march their troops around in the cold and the rain without field jackets or rain coats (the TI’s, of course, would be warmly bundled up). In addition, they would not allow their troops time to shower, brush their teeth, or take their clothes and bed-clothes to the laundry. As a result, Lackland had become a huge petri dish of contagion. Local outrage at the CDC’s findings forced the commander to change the policies, banning all these practices. But nevertheless, after it was all over, flights were again sited marching in the cold and the rain without coats. The city decided it could not trust the word of the Air Force, or the local generals on the base, and took matters into their own hands. The “crows” were from the San Antonio health department. And I got the message that they were probably the only thing keeping that field jacket on my back. The lesson is one every military member should know. When it comes to “the system,” or anyone protected by it, YOUR only protection is a crow. And there are way too few of those around.

    • George Washington

      Excellent story!
      At a recent MAJCOM Commander’s call for staff, the 4-star general said one of his biggest issues is that airmen don’t trust him. He said it wasn’t based on anything in particular, but seemed to be more of a result of the hierarchical military organization, and that he probably felt a similar level of distrust when he was a captain; there is just a lot of distance between the 4-star level and everyone else. He also said he was making it a priority to earn trust with airmen.

      While I agree with everything he said, and appreciate his telling us, I think there is more to it. I think part of the problem is how compartmentalized these generals are. They never overreach their own fiefdoms. Sure, they don’t want to step on another general’s toes, and it is professional courtesy to stay in one’s own lane. But from my much lower level, I see TOTALLY BROKEN SYSTEMS AND NO ONE DOES ANYTHING ABOUT IT!

      If none of our top generals is willing to call out another general, then nothing will get fixed! Who does the AFPC director report to? The CSAF? Anyone else? So, we are basically relying on ONE guy to identify and fix a problem affecting thousands of airmen. If that one guy doesn’t identify the problem, or doesn’t recognize its significance, then nothing gets changed. Even if other generals see the broken system, they never say anything about it, because it isn’t one of their immediate responsibilities. THIS IS WHY WE DON’T TRUST YOU GUYS. You can tell us the truth 100% of the time, but it’s your failure to protect us from “threats” outside your command that betrays our trust. Right now, AFPC is the threat. They are ruining and disrupting lives asymmetrically. We want to see pressure from more than CSAF.

      Maybe the first thing we need to do is cut our flag officers, as we were ordered to do by the SECDEF and never did…Recommend a John Q Public article on historic numbers of flag officers (what is our flag officer per airman ratio now, during cold war, in WWII). I suspect we are way too top heavy, which means a diluted quality of GO, lessened responsibilities per general, excessive spending.

      General officers, we know you’re reading this blog. TAKE SOME ACTION. SPEAK OUT WHEN YOU SEE YOUR PEERS MUCKING UP! Tough talk is not enough. Firings are not enough. FIX THE DAMN PROBLEM. You have lost our confidence, and the only way you’ll get it back is to make our service excellent in ALL it does.

      • Tony Carr

        Tom Ricks wrote a hell of a study on the Army’s issues with its general officer corps. A similar study on the Air Force would, I suspect, reveal even deeper maladies and dysfunctions. We need to just cut a bunch, immediately, and let the chips fall where they may. We’ve grown top heavy and with that growth, aggregated authority away from the field . . . and gotten into the habit of creating new things to do that have no connection to the mission or people. It’s not a coincidence.

      • TJ

        The AFPC Director “guy” is actually a gal. And the AF/A1 is a pilot. Support officers understand the pecking order, but be careful who you target. Remember that at the highest levels, they’re always from from your flock.

      • Anonymous

        No one is going to take the initiative to fix any problems…for the positions that are taken over by contractors or GS employees, military are going to get paid the same and get the same 5 EPR that everyone else gets. Why is anyone going to take initiative? Those that do are often shunned as the bad guys and pushed aside. Heck this even applies to contractors and civil service…they going to get paid the same regardless so why do something out of the ordinary?

        • Anonymous

          Everyone just there to chase that retirement….

  • JF

    I am an CGO working at wing level. From my observation point I find few NCOs or CGOs who trust the word of leadership above the wing level at present. Senior leadership on the strategic level has done an excellent job at “bankrupting” the trust of their tactical level Airmen. This is going to have lasting negative impact –

  • Otis R. Needleman

    In my Adult Air Force of not so long ago, in general airmen of all ranks were treated as adults and professionals, there were still some leaders, but even most bosses were competent, and you could rely on MPC to do its’ job fairly efficiently. People sometimes got crappy assignments but they usually didn’t get jerked around regarding their separation or retirement. Today’s AF gets the mission done, at least for now, despite the bosses and the system, not because of it. A damned shame. Billy Mitchell, Curtis Lemay, Hap Arnold, and Jimmy Doolittle are turning in their graves at 1000 rpm.

    • Tony Carr

      Amen. You and I are remembering the same Air Force.

      • 1-Term Wonder

        Hmm. And yet this Air Force was the one of my nightmare. Food for thought.

  • Anonymous

    Clean house from top to bottom. We have an inept CSAF, a tool and leg humper of a CMSGTAF and an inexperienced Secretary. Makes for a clamity of errors. They will hide behind retoric and have a nice smoke and mirror show for all like the Wizard of Oz.

    • Huldah1776

      Wondering who it is that is giving these people promotions? Same who are cleansing the military of conservative commanders?

      • Rickey Shay

        Start at the top, who put those in charge COS and CMSAF? The POTUS. Start there please.

  • http://none me

    I have to wonder if someone at AFPC screwed up and started using the new matrix to soon “on accident??” Not that anyone would admit it..

    I haven’t heard of anyone in my career field getting approved without it being yanked back. I am one of the ones that got denied at the last minute after having to wait 4 months for a decision. Hurry up an wait is a “time honored tradition” in the Air Force, but this is just to much..

    I have had several offers for employment and now have to flush them all down the drain after the AFPC email, after hours, declining my application.

    Where is the integrity and excellence in an organization that promises open communication with a program that can so drastically change an individuals or families life/lives and then clams up and offers no explanations?

    I would say I am surprised by these actions, but am sad to say, this is par for this course when dealing with AFPC.

    I find this very disheartening and am really disappointed in my chosen service. I just wish I could turn back the clock 17yrs and not have to put up with this type of incompetence.

  • G

    this is a great article, and I hope leadership at all levels especially AFPC and even SECAF gets their eyes on this intriguing article.

  • Al

    Through all this craziness my family and I have endured, I am happy for one thing. That is that we have someone like “JohnQ” as our champion. In my eight years I have personally witnessed so much corruption and incompetence that I have zero trust or faith in the Air Force. Period. Two assignments as a staff sergeant and I have personally had SNCO’s and CGO’s try to convince me to not report security incidents, major violations, and even try to intimidate me into not telling the CC about certain issues all to protect their own or avoid any ‘shame’ on the squadron. So when these same ‘leaders’ try to enforce the core values, I am disgusted. I applied to separate and have heard nothing for three months. I want out and NOW! This AF is a sinking ship and it breaks my heart because I believe in what it stands for but not in the leaders behind the wheel. My sons and ESPECIALLY my daughters will join the military over my dead body. Three years ago an Airman in my unit was sexually assaulted by our O3 flight cc and they swept it under the rug and just moved him to the wing as the exec. I wouldn’t trust the AF with my kids gold fish. The rampant waste of money on things like new office furniture every two years, paper calenders for decoration, and frivolous TDY’s for the privileged infuriates me as a tax payer. The saddest part is that even the most well composed, spirited, and intellectual letter to my congressman or military leader has not and will not do anything to change it. This story is just a microcosm of the entire culture in the military. These party line statements from leaders and the highly spun propaganda articles they release are so disconnected and misrepresenting of what is really going on. Thanks for being the only one who provides a professional and intelligent platform for the real world story of the Air Force. I salute you!

  • Anonymous

    This one hits really close to the vest. I applied for TERA after being notified in December that I was eligible. I couldn’t believe it as my AFSC is always “critically manned” and can’t be released for anything, but this time my AFSC and year group were eligible. As soon as the window opened, I applied. I waited for the (second) eligibility check (which seemed unnecessary as they’d already identified me as eligible and notified me) which they said could take as long as 10 days…and it did. But after ten days, i was told via e-mail that I was eligible (again) and could proceed with my application for retirement. So I did. And waited. And waited. And waited. All the while hearing nothing from the personnel center and only getting whatever info my co-workers and friends were getting for their various sources, none of whom were any more informed than any of us. The climate of it all however, with a stated end-state of a drawdown of 25k airmen, it seemed that if you volunteered for a program you were more than likely going to get approved. So I began planning for the next stage in our lives despite my wife’s warnings not to get my hopes up. The “strategic pause” happened and tossed another emotional hand grenade not knowing really why it was occurring or what was going on, just more waiting and so, I waited some more while the personnel center did whatever it was they were doing and hoping that my application would be processed in time to do all the things I’d need to do in preparation for retirement by the mandated 1 Aug. The the e-mail came last weekend and I was hoping to hear that my application had been finally approved. Instead, I was notified that I was not to make any inquiries or risk jeopardizing my application. Nice, don’t dare question the system, just sit there and take it. Then on the 31st, I received another note from AFPC thanking me for my patience and that notifications would begin 1 April, which was their original deadline. 1 April rolled around, nothing heard. 2 April, crickets. 3 April, graveyard quiet. Then on 4 April, as I’m heading in to meet with a friend about a potential job, the notification finally arrived. My application had been kicked back because they changed the AFSC/YG eligibility matrix at the last minute and suddenly, they weren’t releasing anyone from my AFSC/YG. Are you f-ing kidding me!?!?! Talk about getting sucker punched. I am about as angry as I’ve ever been, but what really pisses me off about it is the fact that there’s not a gawddamned thing I can do about it. This process has done very little to restore what little faith I had left in the AF.

    • Anonymous

      Ever heard of not selling your house before you have orders? Don’t count your chickens before their hatched? And so on. You shouldn’t be making plans if you don’t know the answer.

      • Too Tired To Fight The System

        should be “they’re hatched”…

        • Anonymous

          Goodness, this was a necessary correction. I really thought this person meant a hatched thing that belonged to a group of people. Granted, you may be too tired to fight the system, but you are certainly not so tired you cannot be an online grammar policeman.

          With your attention to detail, I really think you should go to AFPC and fix the issues. Write a letter to the AFPC director asking for a position, and cite this grammar correction as a reason to work there. Your a shoe-in. Get it? I said “your” and I really should have said “you’re.”

          • Anonymous

            How’s the cool aid taste Anonymous 2? Ladies and Gentlemen, please excuse this individual. He’s obviously still in the afterglow of the AF morale building mustache March and is in mourning after shaving 1 April.

      • TJ

        That’s not fair to the original Anonymous. We are all working on false pretenses and should his application been approved as was a reasonable possibility based on meeting the criteria set, it would have been equally irresponsible not to make plans for the future. And he didn’t do anything permanent. Have some empathy and realize there’s many people working between a rock and a hard place, doing the best they can for their families.

        • Apparently I counted my chickens too soon – The original Anonymous (for this thread)

          Thanks TJ. You’re exactly correct on my thought process and nowhere in my original post did I say anything about entering into any sort of commitment (In fact, I had to sign a Statement of Understanding as did everyone else, stating that I would not enter into an irreversible agreement as part of the application process). My point was that with all the uncertainty and the lack of communication of any sort, we had absolutely zero idea of what we were facing and this not only impacted people on the individual level, but it also impacts the overall mission because of the distraction…and if someone like Anon2 thinks this sort of thing isn’t a distractor, then they’re either a fool or a liar.

      • Apparently I counted my chickens too soon

        Obviously, you don’t know a thing about planning. Ever heard of branch and sequel planning? Applies to real life as much as it does the MDMP. It wasn’t so much a count your chickens before they’re hatched as much as it was getting prepared for what seemed like the inevitable. Although I will be putting a few opportunities on hold because of this, on the flip side I didn’t want to be caught on 2 Aug as another unemployment statistic either. The amount I would have received in retirement wouldn’t keep the roof over my head, much less feed my family. When my unit held an all-call to discuss it originally, you’d think we were closing the entire air force and unless you were one of the golden children you needed to get a game plan together, no one else is going to do it for you, that’s for damned sure. 1 Apr to 1 Aug isn’t a hell of a lot of time to get your shit together, so as for your snarky “Ever heard of not selling your house before you have orders?” at least when you PCS, you’re still employed, not so when you’ve hung up the uniform. Moving back in with my parents, living in their basement and playing X-Box all day is not an option.

        On an unrelated note, I bet your Official AF Mustache March flavor saver was majestic.

  • Too Tired To Fight The System

    JQP… DING, DING, DING… you hit the nail on the head! If I were this INEPT at my job, I would have crashed and died on my first solo flight in UPT. This whole FM debacle has been an embarassment for the USAF — and at the same time, I have learned a LOT about my own personal chain of command — I have learned that nobody actually gives a SHIT about where I go or what happens to me. It’s de-moralizing, to say the least… but your article clearly summarizes a majority of the issues affecting the operational squadrons in the USAF today.

    This Force Management “program” has been an embarassment from the beginning. From the release of the PSDM’s over the x-mas break, to the complete lack of answers in the weeks to follow… only to be outdone by the absolute lack of details before the programs actually were implemented… I was forced down a path that I would not have otherwise taken. After my application was submitted, the rules changed, the criteria changed, and the “leadership” was still unable to provide any actionable details. Once the rules had changed, I was “offered” the opportunity to retract my application for early retirement… but without any new guidance, I decided to “Love the one you’re with….” and ride out the storm.

    Three days ago, I got an email from AFPC congratulating me on my “Approval of my retirement.” Today, as the Facebook page exploded with folks getting notifications of “We’re sorry… your retirement was approved in error”, I engaged my chain of command to see what kind of answers I would get. I had looked at myPers, vMPF, PRDA, and CDB… all of which indicated that my retirement “approval” had been reversed. Nobody in my chain of command cared…

    I’m now in another state of LIMBO, waiting to see what the final outcome will actually be. I’m not alone in this endeavor… there are many more going through the same turmoil. The blatant lack of transparency in this process (despite Gen Welsh’s proclamation) signifies a resolute lack of “Integrity” in the FM process and an absolute abcess of “excellence in all we do”. If we can sacrifice the “Core Values” of the USAF so easily to expel the people that truly make the USAF what it is today… what is left on the table???

    • TJ

      I hope you will write a letter(s) to your elected representatives. I realize you are exhausted from the nonsense, as we all are, but your voice and many others should be heard. One thing I would ask, however, is that you expand your view about who this affects. This isn’t an ops vs. support issue. Plenty of Airmen in units across the AF are experiencing the exact same uncalled for jerk around. To blame non-ops just because it’s convenient bullying takes focus away from the strategic level leadership failures of foul policy and worse execution. I support you fully, and hope you’ll consider my comments for what they’re worth to you and to all our common plights for basic respect.

      • Apparently I counted my chickens too soon

        Amen, TJ. This is an issue that transcends AFSC. The leadership vacuum associated with this issue (among others) affects us all.

    • Apparently I counted my chickens too soon

      Too Tired, the part where you say, ” I have learned that nobody actually gives a SHIT about where I go or what happens to me. It’s de-moralizing, to say the least” is the part about this whole thing that pisses me off as well. Not many seem to care, those that do can’t do anything about it. It’s a huge, frustrating mess but as long as big blue can buy some more F-35’s and KC-46’s, who cares about the people that fly them and fix them (and everything else in between). Best of luck to you, I hope you’re not among those who did have the rug pulled our from under you.

  • Anonymous

    Reminds me of going to try and re-inlist. Go to re inlistments and the person behind the desk has just been sent over from assignments, where they were only there for 2 months. And everyone had a lazy blank stare. As if they where pissed off a aNd cud used as to why I’m interrupting there loud and inappropriate story about hooking up with the finance chick last night at a friends place. A lot of people refused to even try to retrain, or put in for orders because you could never get ahold of the people that are supposed to be working there or you would and they wouldn’t know how to do there job. I’m all for swapping it up and making sure manning is good and what not. But putting an A1C in charge of making decisions like these with 2 days of experience, And letting there fat finger mistakes get sent through the system to screw some poor guy or gal out of retraining, re-inlisting, or even worse someone’s retirement….. The system needs purged top to bottom! I’ve seen great Airmen decide to get out because of this stuff. I thought the USAF was the best and brightest.

    • Anonymous

      (And confused) not a aNd cud used. iPhone typing FTW!

  • USAF SSgt Snuffy

    It actually seems silly to me that people would have trusted anything AFPC has put out after mid-March when they seemed to be very slowly pulling their heads out from where the sun don’t shine. I was TDY to another base and basically gave up all hope that they would figure a damn thing out by the end of the year. People in high places need to be fired and replaced, with deep-rooted policies that need to be shredded and rewritten before these tards get a damn thing right. I’ll be out by the time they actually start ACTUALLY enacting things and push people out under this policy.

  • Aretha

    It saddens me to read this article but it also makes me feel disappointed in some of your posts. Each and every one of you are no stranger to change, as this is known as the AF middle name. With any change there are subject to error, this is trial and error. Although this has affected most of the armed force, we have to trust and have faith in our leadership that there is a method to the madness. If any one of you are planning on making the AF a career, you will eventually implement change wether it be at the Squadron, Group, Wing, NAF, MAJCOM, or AF level and I hope you keep in the back of your mind that your change may not go as planned, if there are kinks it’s ok. Just go back to the step 6 and 7 and find out what the problem is and fix it. But whatever you do, don’t give up because there was an obvious felt need for the change! That’s just my 0.02

    • Maj BOHICA

      Nobody is expecting this “change” to be perfect. But if you mess up, own up to it. If you make a mistake that affects people’s lives, have the decency to call them or tell them face to face, instead of sending a robo-email at COB on a Friday. When the CSAF says the process is to be “open” and “transparent,” make it so. And, if you make these kinds of mistakes, you should expect to be held accountable for your actions. Everyone else in the AF is held accountable for their mistakes…

      You say we have to “trust and have faith in our leadership…” Our leadership long ago foreited that right by their own inaction, hollow words, and refusal to keep faith with the Airmen they swore to protect and lead.

    • George Washington

      Hi Aretha, Everyone understands that change happens. The problem is not change, but how programs are being implemented. Where we lose “trust and faith in our leadership” is how incompetently they implement change. This is madness and there is no logical method to it, just sheer incompetence. Clearly, the AF has no handle on how many people they actually have, need, or want to have. Those numbers drive the force management programs. It’s not the first time this type of personnel change has happened, nor is it the first time the AF has botched it. They are botching it on all levels–calculating the numbers, communicating with Airmen, sticking to their own timelines, being consistent, keeping commanders informed, etc–and they keep botching up the same things over and over. People are turning down jobs and interviews, cancelling home sales, permanently and negatively hurting their careers, being jerked around. Lives are being seriously stressed right now because of the incompetence, and it’s simply not necessary.
      Don’t be disappointed in our posts. Be disappointed in the Air Force we have become. We have served in a much better Air Force, and feel embarrassed about our organization in which we once felt extreme pride.

    • Wisconsin77

      ohh, so this is what change is? lol

  • Anonymous

    Our Service has confused our decision to serve with our willingness to be Serfs.

  • I’m Bailing

    A little over a year ago, I received notice from AFPC that my HSSAD (High School Senior Assignment Deferment). I went home and shared the great news with my daughter and family. A few days later I received an out of cycle assignment. I pushed back (likely not without career impact), but in the end was told to shut-up and color…that HSSADs can always be overruled. I was told this without any apology or empathy. In fact, one senior leader told me to suck it up, that “It’s just a moment in time” for my daughter, and that she’ll get over it.

    That did it for me. My career has been golden, but this sort of needless mismanagement–especially when it impacts my family is such harsh ways–is not for me, and neither is the organization that sponsors it. I’m now over-saturated with years of this sort of stupidity, and I will be retiring at the earliest opportunity. Furthermore, after witnessing and experiencing such things first-hand, none of my family members (immediate and extended) are willing to consider military service.

    Add one more botched force management decision to the list, along with another premature departure by a top performer.

    • 1-Term Wonder

      I’m struck by the number of people vowing to dissuade their kids from joining. This is significant because the military, like many other professions, is a family affair. My dad retired after 32 years as and O5, a rated officer with a regular commission. His experience was broken by Vietnam. Nevertheless, he did not try to dissuade me from my decision to enlist. And I’m glad he didn’t. I don’t regret enlisting. Those 4 years taught me more about life, honor, dishonor and the nature of good and evil than I would ever have learned otherwise. But it was a gamble. I saw the Air Force break way more people than it made. The worst seemed to be those who did not experience the dark side up front and right away like I did. They realized they were the lair of a vicious dragon, but his breath seemed to flow towards other types of people. So maybe they were safe. And they re-enlisted. And the longer you stay in the AF, the more invested you become, and the harder it is to leave. It’s one thing for a single 20-something to just GTFO like I did. It’s quite another thing for a 30-something with a family to do it. Then eventually, the dragon turns his breath on YOU. And you are stuck.
      It’s important to dissuade your children from joining the military. If I had kids now, I would too, if for no other reason than the revelations about the sexual assault. Apparently I was lucky in more ways than one. Service is largely a family affair. Stopping this inflow may be the only way to stop feeding the beast.

      • WhyJoin

        Me and dual military retired spouse transferred our GI Bills to our kids, they have no reason to join and I have already suggested they don’t.

      • Otis R. Needleman

        Both my kids were born while I was on active duty. I neither encouraged them nor discouraged them from joining the service. Neither joined and I am glad of it. My kids – heck, nobody’s kids – deserve to be treated the way today’s AF treats people.

        Just a heads up to the CSAF…those missions won’t accomplish themselves. Guess you and everyone in “leadership” have forgotten the old maxim, “Take care of the people, and the people will take care of the mission.” Worked in my AAF (Adult Air Force).

  • Anonymous

    I can’t believe I was denied. I really want to be done with this crap.

  • McPeakTQM

    Yearly change does not lend itself to building heritage, rather mistrust of leaders changing for the good of themselves and not the Air Force as an institution.

  • Anthony Williamson

    Personnel reduction: Because it’s easier than telling a Congressman no when he/she is raking in Defense Contractor profits.

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    AFPC is like C-17s which sometimes land at the wrong destination. Comeon AFPC, land at the right airfield! Stop landing on the wrong airfield!

  • Steve

    1977-1981 was enough chaos. I said farewell!

  • Retired MSgt

    AFPC has NEVER done things right for the people. This brings back memories of my retirement. I applied for it before well before I PCS’ed. I left my duty station on the last possible day and they canceled my assignment without notifying per AFI. The VIOLATED several sections of the AFI. I showed up at my new duty location and they were shocked. AFPC told me to re-apply. After jumping thru hoops, they denied it and said I incurred a one year service commitment for the PCS. I went thru the IG with no action taken against the people who VIOLATED the AFI and no approved retirement. I filed a Congressional complaint and still nothing. Finally, I sent the SECAF an email since he was the appellant authority. I finally got my approved retirement date and NOTHING happened to the people at AFPC who screwed things up. There is NO ACCOUNTABILITY at AFPC. If someone else at a wing was to violate an AFI they would at least receive an Article 15 or worse.

  • Buddy Holly

    The AF is broken and has been for awhile. Our AFSC has one of the longest and most stressful training pipelines in the AF, with airmen routinely discharging after a four year contract before ever getting to their first duty station and actually doing the job. We routinely get offered $100K to reenlist -yet we leave the AF in droves. Our reenlistment numbers are so abysmally low that we’ve actually had live people from AFISRA and NSA come to our bases in person to interview A1Cs about why we hate the job so much. The AF hasn’t been interested in keeping the best people or in forming the best policies. The AF is run by a bunch of REMF pukes and ignorant civilians and bureaucrats who are more interested in spouting rhetoric while they serve the needs of the corrupt politicians and “defense” contractors who are raking in the cash on the backs of military personnel. They routinely sacrifice our ability to effectively accomplish the mission upon the altar of political correctness. The AF is a painful example of wasted potential. Deborah Lee James is now the face of this unqualified and damaging leadership that’s been plaguing the AF for years.

    • Bizzle

      You sound like some 1A8s I know.

    • Otis R. Needleman

      Yup, and that hatred of the job starts with the way non-prior service students are treated at the Defense Language Institute. Went through it. Did my four years back then. Never a thought of re-enlistment. After getting out got a letter from some chief master sergeant at Kelly asking me to re-enlist. I laughed as I tore the letter into little pieces. Eventually came back as a lieutenant.

      • 1-Term Wonder

        In contrast, I loved the job. It was the Air Force I hated.

  • Buddy Holly

    The most glaring lesson I learned in six years of wearing blue was that military leadership is not to be trusted. Ever. They made cynics of all of us. The military is a toxic and family wrecking organization.

  • MoraleIsNotHigh

    No amount of Tater Tots will right this wrong!

  • Rich Giddens

    The Air Force tried to screw me but I won instead. I’ve tried to get my sons to pursue a military career. My youngest son has now completed 4 years of Junior AFROTC and has been accepted into UCLA. He is refusing to join the military. I can’t force him to join. Look—we tried to defend the nation and win the war but the government is not interested. Bring back Ronald Reagan!
    See http://MilitaryCorruption.Com/soundoff4.htm

  • Mike

    The Self-Licking Ice Cream cone strikes again… reminds me of the CMSgt who would stand outside the dining hall at Ali-As-Saleem AB in Kuwait just prior to OIF and kick people out of line for improper uniform wear to include wearing gortex over civilian clothes when its raining and 40 degrees in the desert. The chow hall line was hours long due to the large build up of Army, Marine and AFSOC forces in run-up to the war. It was only open for a limited time and the Chief and 1st Sgt waited just inside the entrance… just like AFPC, put in your paperwork to separate or retire…. wait in line… then get told, too bad, your out of uniform, go fix YOUR problems, and start over… OBTW what unit are you from and who’s your commander???? Even though I’ve stuck around another 10 years from that day, that was the start of the true AF education for me… when my O-6 ordered us to “get arrested” by security forces if they did not let us on “the rock” because the support forces had been living life large in the desert for ten+ yrs of OSW and did not want to share with any of the combat forces brought in for OIF I knew the AF was lost. When we launched for war the opening night on cold hamburgers with mustard, no bread, no other food at our chow hall so kindly set up for us by “the rock” while they ate steaks and ice cream… you could see the idiocy at work. That O-6 was one of the few leaders I ever saw fight for his people… and what did that get him, early removal from Ops Gp/CC and no shot for Wing/CC. The good ones only get to go so far because the careerists know they are a serious threat! For all of you that got screwed… fight and fight hard, cause no one in the system cares, and those of us who do have no real power to help! TC, keep up the good fight, sunlight is the best antiseptic!

    • RAF

      Same thing happened to one of my men in Kuwait. He had been in Iraq and got ambushed…shot up a bunch of Iraqi military and was suffering PTSD for what he did to them. He so got sent back to me in Kuwait. I took one look at him and realized that he needed a hot meal and some sleep, so off to the DFAC we go to get him squared away. To my surprise, there is Command Sergeant Major checking everyone for 35-10 (or whatever passes for the services’ uniform and grooming reg). He took one look at my guy and says that he is out of uniform and needs a shave. I told that E-9 that this guy just came in from Iraq and to pound sand…we were AF and if he didn’t notice, I was a Lieutenant Colonel and the AF Senior Ranking Officer at this Army base…and my man’s appearance was just fine with me. (Not to make it seem like the Army was all bad, they awarded him a BSM with Valor for his actions.)

      I came to learn that there is a difference between being a Chief (or the service equivalent) and being an E-9. I am disappointed you ran into an E-9 instead of a Chief…but there are good ones out there.

  • Green Grass

    My eyes were opened to how much the AF cares about its members in 2007 when I saw AF/A1’s briefing to senior leadership explaining the force shaping numbers for that year and even though reductions were at 103% and all RIF actions could have been cancelled, they chose not to. Plus, the joke slide at the beginning making light of the situation was a real nice touch too.

    This really stung for me because I was still coping with the phone call I had received from the two star explaining how my services were no longer needed in the AF, but hey, at least it wasn’t a post-it note or e-mail. Apparently prior-enlisted grads of the AF academy who had deployed and did a bang up job during OIF were not really what the AF was looking for in the people they retained. The only explanation I received was it must have been because I was working a staff tour to early in my career while others were still out there fighting two wars. I found it troubling the same AFPC machine that sent me to a staff tour at the island of misfit toys to begin with was the same one who punished me for it.

    However, fast forward to now and all I can say is if you’re not happy with Active Duty look for opportunities in the ANG. I was fortunate enough to find an opening and life has never been better. In my experience the Guard treats their members better.

  • Wes

    Two words. AIR STAFF. They are the ones who tell AFPC who, what, when, where, and why. I applied for VSP 3 months ago… Still haven’t heard anything. Every time I call AFPC they tell me that air staff is the problem. I don’t know who to blame, but I’m starting with the Air Force. How can you propose a drawdown, initiate it, allow people to apply, then come up with a plan? Several people that applied for VSP months after me have already been approved. 3 months later…. Still waiting. And you want me to re-enlist? Heh.

    • EJ

      Wes, you hit the head on the nail. AFPC is a building full of people stuck carrying the dirty laundry for the Air Staff.

  • Tip Tank

    I have not seen it mentioned here and the wording of the robo-email attached in the article above doesn’t necessarily support this theory, but could the TERA approval retraction from Friday have anything to do with the fact that the TERA program is going to reopen in May?

    I was one of many who were denied from the outset because I wasn’t eligible; in my case it was because I had an ADSC for Aviator Continuation Pay (now called Aviation Retention Pay). This was one of the ADSCs that is now waiverable when the TERA window reopens; the table of all the other waiverable ADSCs was posted on myPers on 3 Apr. According to myPers, details on this reopening of TERA will be released next week.

    Since the details of the reopened TERA are not yet known, there are some questions that loom. When the window reopens, is the mandatory retirement date still going to be 1 Aug? If so, that would make getting out by then almost impossible. How long is the new application window going to be open? Assuming it takes all month of May before notifying people, some folks could literally start terminal leave the next day on 1 Jun. Perhaps AFPC notified people earlier this week about their TERA and then realized there will be a whole other pool of applicants they’d have to consider who were previously denied the chance to apply, people like me. Maybe they were trying to be fair to those of us who were unfairly left out of the first window. That’s the only amount of credit I’m willing to give AFPC at this point, but it’s still a lame decision if that’s why they did it. It puts everyone in limbo as we get closer and closer to the mandatory retirement date, and that’s certainly painful for people trying to establish a career on the outside.

    What AFPC needs to do with the mandatory retirement date of 1 Aug is slip it to the right to offset their months of bungling it. What difference does it make if people retire on 1 Aug vs. 1 Jan? Oh, it’s a new FY? BFD. Retirement though is a BFD, whether you’re doing it with 20+ or 15 years…you need time to prepare for life on the outside. A little over 2 months notice before you’re unemployed (and homeless if you live on base) is criminal…


  • RealTalk

    Two kinds of people in AF. Those who know AF doesn’t care about them and others that just haven’t figured it out yet.

  • 1-Term Wonder

    Will force shaping even be needed? The Air Force people I know were getting pretty disgusted way before all of this even happened. It was for all the other BS unrelated to any draw down. Granted, they are in one of the “hard to recruit and hard to retain” AFSC’s, just like I used to be, but almost everyone they knew had either separated or was planning to. My point is, it sounds like so many people may choose not to re-enlist,or to go ahead and retire if they are eligible, that that this whole FM thing could just become unnecessary. What I’m interested in seeing is what the AF does when the tables are turned – when they are no longer trying to drive people out, when economy picks up (as it always, eventually does), and the sexual assault scandals and all this bad blood keeps people from coming in. I’ve heard that right after the Vietnam war there was a “hollow force” because they had just switched to the AVF and the military had a terrible reputation. Maybe we’re headed for such days again after these wars?

  • Anonymous

    While it’s a bit of an over-simplification, one question worth asking is whether the military exists for the benefit of the nation’s defense, or whether it exists for the benefit of the individual who volunteered to serve in it, warts and all

    • 1-Term Wonder

      This is a false dichotomy. There is no “either or” that this question implies. The military obviously exists for the benefit of the nation’s defense. But in the real world, it also depends on the voluntary labor of the individuals who volunteer to serve it. Screw them over too badly and they simply leave, which hurts not only the military, but the nation’s defense as well, especially in areas that are chronically undermanned to begin with. Perhaps you’ve never seen what happens to critical mission operations that are always undermanned and then lose even more people for some reason. I have. It’s not pretty. The nation’s defense is harmed, sometimes irreparably.

  • Anonymous

    This is no surprise to anyone. AFPC couldn’t care less about the Airmen and, in my opinion, is mostly because it is run and staffed by civilian employees and not Airmen. 3 years ago, I requested retirement as I had been informed I had been hired by a local police force. I was facing mandatory retirement later that year anyway but was told that because I had broken the mandatory 120 deadline that it would be impossible! I contacted everyone I could at AFPC and was repeatedly told it was not possible even though I would be REQUIRED to retire 3 months after the date I was requesting! Amazing…a call to a Command Chief friend and I had retirement orders in hand in 9 days!!!! So what was the hangup??? Because they had the opportunity to say no. AFPC is a joke.

  • Mr Happy, PFC

    I retired out of the AF in 94. This is nothing new.

    Screwed up personnel actions happened after the Vietnam draw down,after the first Gulf war draw down and on and on.

    There is (or was for me anyway) life after the Air Force. Nothing will be certain and may even be scary – that’s life. If nothing else, you will have learned one big lesson – **never sign an employment contract**. It’s rarely any benefit to you.

    Now, if I think my boss is a dunce or has broken the law – I line up another gig and walk. No sense in griping, just enjoy what you have or go find something better.

    And if you are ‘stuck’ right now, you at least have a firm separation date from your original contract. Focus on that and start working on a killer resume.
    The AFPC is dealing with a shifting target, thanks to CONgress and failing around is the normal reaction as is not wanting to admit any screwups. Don’t kid yourself, it will be a lot worse in the real world.

    Good luck, you’ll live through this, like it or not.

    While I enjoyed most of my time in, I would never recommend the military to anyone right now – this is just the leading edge of what will be other, and more massive, cuts. When those kick, in this current kerfuffle will look tame by comparison.

  • George Washington

    Rich Giddens says:
    April 6, 2014 at 10:49 am

    The Air Force tried to screw me but I won instead. I’ve tried to get my sons to pursue a military career. My youngest son has now completed 4 years of Junior AFROTC and has been accepted into UCLA. He is refusing to join the military. I can’t force him to join. Look—we tried to defend the nation and win the war but the government is not interested. Bring back Ronald Reagan!
    See http://MilitaryCorruption.Com/soundoff4.htm

    Damn…! Wow, what a story.
    Thanks for sharing.
    I started googling the characters involved. Col Lefforge retired as a colonel even though selected for Brig General. Looks like he works in San Antonio now.
    The main culprit, however, is a currently serving MAJOR GENERAL! How the hell did that happen? The whole wing gets flipped upside down, this then-Colonel Mark Marshall Dillon breaks several laws as part of a retaliatory scam to cover his own racism, and then he gets promoted to GENERAL?!?! What the F? The guy despises enlisted personnel, and looks to cover his own ass at the expense of others. I feel sick to my stomach seeing this guy wearing stars.

    General Welsh, explain why this man was not dishonorably discharged as a retired lieutenant colonel? He should have been forced out 15 years ago. Tell us some more about SERVICE BEFORE SELF, INTEGRITY, and EXCELLENCE…


  • George Washington

    If a wing vice commander can be fired last week for some questionable emails 7 years ago, then “Maj Gen” Dillon sure as hell needs to be fired for his actions at Travis.

  • TooManyStars

    She should be unfrocked!

  • iyaayas

    I applied for and was approved for retirement about a week before this fiasco began. I’m thankful for that but still struggling to take care of the airmen I have who are being screwed by this system. People who just bought houses or have babies due any day. I don’t know what to tell them, I feel like this is a failure of the system to take care of us. I have told my three children that I no longer support them joining the military at all.

  • GPSrulz

    This “Force Management” shows the Air Force is less than a military organization with military leadership, and more like an air lines that delivers bombs with management who led it to Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

  • Ready togo

    It better get fixed and quickly! We’ve earned the retirement benefits regardless of a 15 year or 20 year career. I can’t comprehend how you do such a shady, down low and disgusting thing to anyone. People’s lives are seriously impacted by this garbage!

  • Anonymous

    It’s so frustrating! In what other organization can people get away with this type of disregard for people they employ

  • Neccesity

    I went to the IG twice in my career. First time was for a promised extension of overseas tour during the second year of recession. HAF A1 sent out guidance to allow, encourage people to extend to save money. Wife planned accordingly for a more stable career. Unfortunately, AFPC said otherwise. Wife lost job due to move. IG stated “needs of the Air Force.”
    Second time at other base I went to IG to report misuse of funds and people by Sq/CC. Essentially was told to “quit whining.”
    Both times I tried chain of command but everyone said they were powerless.
    Every time I hear “needs of the Air Force” I shiver.
    Do not trust the IG has your interest as they work for the Wg/CC.

  • Ovlov
  • Don’t miss the nonsense a bit

    The day after I retired from the Air Force, I picked up a stray male dog and kissed its filthy pecker just so I could regain a little of the self-respect that I’d lost while working for a bunch of clueless twits while on active duty.

    • 1-Term Wonder

      I knew a guy who, after his last day, went to a Taco Bell, changed clothes in the bathroom, then put his uniform on a tray and dumped it into the big garbage can with the “Thank You!” on the lip. I think it was about 1986,

      • JoJo

        Yuck! That trash can must’ve been really disgusting afterwards.

  • Anonymous

    If the aircraft maintainers (who were subject to this) had the same level of competence as their AFPC and Finance counterparts, so many aircraft would crash each month that the news wouldn’t even cover it. More pilots would be killed per month then in all wars combined.

    The fact that this isn’t surprising is disgraceful. The fact that heads aren’t rolling from it is ridiculous. These people discredit themselves and the United States Air Force.

  • Chris

    I applied for TERA after reading line by line and referencing every item they listed. At the 10 day mark i was denied for reasons specifically identified as waiverable. I sent a follow up question to clarify… 1.5 MONTHS later I call to check on the status of my question as it had not been addressed electronically. Imagine this: I talked to people that are supposed to be the experts on their programs… And I knew more then they did. I gave up… Due to my 1405 date, I was willing to retire at 18.5 Years and collect 49%… Now I will just stick around to 20 years and collect 53%. Impressed with AFPC? Nope.

  • Anonymous1

    So, seriously, how do we get more coverage on this? Every other story is all over the News, how can we get this reported on Nationally? I honestly think the American public should know how their Veterans are really being treated, and the incompetence in which it’s Military is being run.

    • Wes O’Donnell

      I’m putting this up on my site to try and get some more coverage; we have a large community. As far as veterans, I’m organizing the veteran uprising and my book RISE is the opening shot:

  • michael 8541

    It’s the 70’s all over again. Our commanders seem to have their heads up our liberal politicians as in the 70’s. Our people go out and put their lives in harm’s way and get repaid with this. It’s appalling. Semper Fi.

  • Wes O’Donnell

    The article states “No one is accountable for how people are being treated, since a “system” is in charge rather than a leader.” Actually, the AFPC is run by Maj. Gen. Peggy Poore. Naturally, she should be held accountable. Furthermore, the AFPC runs the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program and the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program; I’d be interested to find out if those programs are suffering as well from the cavalier mis-management.

    • Anonymous

      A1 runs the SAPR program. And no it is not the most efficient program in the AF. All you have to do is look up the name of the old SAPR chief, LtCol Jeff Krusinski. Where is he now you ask??? Oh he is in charge of the A1 bean counters for the officer force management programs. That probably deserves an article from John Q.

  • Pingback: The fight for retirement | The Adventures of Mommy Cuddle Bug()

  • Petition
    • Mac

      Seriously, an internet petition? How embarrassing.

  • Sandy248

    To send that message out on a Friday after duty hours shows a lack of courage on the part of leadership.

  • Anonymous

    If you all are truly interested in helping turn this desicion around please consider signing the petition in the link below. We’re the only ones who can make a difference. Better to act then to complain.

    • SignUp

      The petition needs to hit 150 to be publically searchable on that site.

  • Anonymous

    I could not agree with Anonymous more. However I think Anonymous is off base a little. But I love that fighting spirit.

  • jojo88

    While many people in this forum don’t trust your eadership, I don’t trust you. I don’t trust you to follow the rules or the law. I don’t trust you to not drink and drive. I don’t trust your motives are anything but personal and selfish. I don’t trust you would have my back in a fire fight. I don’t trust that when no one is looking that you will do the right thing. I don’t trust you to not sexually harass a female Airman, cheat on your spouse, cheat on a test, or follow a checklist. After all the police blotters I’ve read, article 15s and court-martials I seen how can I. While I’m proud of the AF and the USA. I have to say I’m not proud of you and I don’t trust you.

    • Reggae

      Just for clarity, you don’t trust people who are willing to stand up for what is right and to hold an organization and its leadership accountable? Seems you trust those who promise transparency yet delivers only cloaked chaos. Promise to get info out in a timely manner yet extends and delays deadlines at will without communicating the change. You trust those who send anonymous emails at COB on a Friday and retracts prior approvals with little to no explanation.
      Sorry Jojo you sir are an idiot…just saying.

  • MovedON

    I’m disgusted. I’m disgusted by what’s happening and I’m disgusted by many of your abusive and disrespectful comments to each other. I should know better than to read or respond to these things, although many of you make very good and intelligent points disguised by immaturity and tantrum throwing. I retired two years ago thankfully and had many of the problems you discuss. I made my desire to leave known (I had no choice) and was consequently black balled and “written off.” I was a good SNCO and while I awaited my departure date, I was used and abused when they needed me and dismissed as a hindrance when they didn’t. I don’t claim to know how to fix this problem. It is one that is much too systemic and political for any one of us to know exactly what’s happening.

    The things I learned the hard way throughout my career is that you cannot lump everyone together — even the officers (and that’s a tough one for me) and you have to look out for yourself because no one else will. The Air Force is not the be all, end all. There is a whole world out here with problems to solve and with environments that are just as toxic. But don’t be afraid. Take the steps while you’re in to prepare for what’s out here so that when they finally decide to push the button, you’re set. If it’s school, get on it. If it’s working on your resume and going to TAP class, get on it. If it’s paying off bills, get on it. Stop wasting time and take care of you and your family in the best ways you know how.

    Retiring was the best thing I could do for my family and my own health. The future is always uncertain in or out, but I know I’m prepared enough to make it and actually be successful. I know it’s futile for me to say, but whether you are loyal and faithful to Big Daddy AF or not, let’s be kinder and respectful to each other, despite our situations. This message won’t go anywhere with all this infighting because no one will have the patience to read it.

    All of this drama and publicity will and might be blowing up in our faces. Between PTSD and mental health issues, to shootings, to all the anger and bitterness, we are creating a stereotype for ourselves to these civilians who have no clue what life is like in the military. Some are afraid, some think we’re a joke, some are so tired of hearing about our woes, they are simply indifferent.

    If you decide to stay in or get out, I wish you all the best. Just remember, the only one looking out for you is you and YOU need to do what’s best for YOU and your family. And I don’t advocate burning any bridges, but I found more than one job without one military reference. All I had to do was be better than everybody else applying. Stay focused. Start preparing. Forget the drama. The limbo will hopefully end soon and hopefully, these jokers can rectify some of the calamity they caused. Just focus on doing what you need to do for either scenario.

    • MountainBoomer

      “Just remember, the only one looking out for you is you and YOU need to do what’s best for YOU and your family. ”

      Call me old-fashioned, but I have a hard time reconciling this statement (which I’ve heard from several sources) with the Air Force Core Value “Service Before Self.”

      Granted, even that Core Value has its limits, but I (perhaps naively) think I may still be able to positively influence the Service if I stay in rather than jump ship.

  • Pingback: Screwing the Military: AF ‘Leadership’s’ Core Values | The Wide Awake Patriot()

  • Anonymous

    Wow, Jojo, who exactly are you talking to here. All of us here are trying to hold an organization accountable. I for one am not perfect, but have done nothing to make anyone not trust me. I have been both a leader and a follower as many others who have commented on this site have been. This is a systemic issue, not a one person accountability issue. I think you should reevaluate your comments and possibly even apologize for telling everyone on this forum that they are untrustworthy. How can you even think to judge an entire group of people you don’t know and have never met? I’m just amazed at people like you. This forum is for people to get the word out about something that has been done to them that could have been avoided and is extremely unprofessional. Please don’t make comments that have nothing to do with the issue at hand.

  • Update
  • Anonymous

    How? Are they not at work on Monday? It’s an e-mail. I’m seriously curious how you think it’s a lack of courage. There’s a lot to complain about, but who cares that the message(s) go out on a Friday midnight on a Tuesday?

    • Sandy248

      Because to wait to send it out on COB on Friday was cowardly. Someone gets a message like that in their inbox and they’re going to have a lot of questions but waiting to send it out on your way out the door lacks courage. They knew people would have questions. They knew that message would upset people. Why not send it out at the beginning of the duty day and face the questions you know people are going to have? Why have them stew over it over the weekend?

  • Anonymous

    I think this may be in response to those in leadership readng this thread….js

    • Anonymous

      More likely, it has nothing to do with the blog. Leaders do what is right.

      • Tony Carr

        “Leaders do what is right.” Sometimes. Sometimes not. Sometimes only when enough pressure is applied. I have serious doubt as to whether A1 or CSAF would have known about this at all had airmen risen up and made it an issue.

        I’m heartened Gen Welsh did the right thing in this case. I’m still deeply concerned we’re in a world where this could happen in the first place.

      • Disconnect

        Thanks for the laugh.

  • Berry Johns

    Wow! I didn’t know Burger King bought the Air Force. I’m not in the military, but I am shocked at the sense of entitlement and “have it your way” attitudes above. I may have to start shopping for a new country to live in if this thread is a reflection of the quality of our military.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed good sir. It’s an Air Force becoming known (and wrongly celebrated on this blog) for Mustache March. Good at griping and pointing the finger.

    • Buddy Holly

      You’re not in the military? So remind us all again why you thought your opinion matters. Do tell. I think you have a good idea there. You should leave this country and go somewhere that appreciates moochers who complain without putting their time in.

  • Anonymous

    Just wondering, how does this individual avoid mention when it comes to accountability?

    • Buddy Holly

      Oh that’s an easy one. Calling a woman on the carpet is sexist. Females in the US are not held accountable for anything, especially in the military, where they can’t even be held to the same fitness or promotion standards.

    • buffpilot

      Maybe because she’s been retired from the USAF for 14 years and is now a county sheriff?

      • Buddy Holly


  • Anonymous

    Or sit on it until Monday, an honest to goodness 60 hour delay, just so the perception is not out there that they’re being cowards?? You seem to be the kind of person who will find fault no matter what. Then there would be another group complaining that they waited too long to release the message. Unbelievable.

  • Berry Johns

    Redacted to consider diversity and inclusion:

    OFF we go into the wild blue yonder,
    Climbing high into the sun
    Here they come zooming to meet our thunder
    At ’em xxxx, Give ‘xx the xxx!
    Down we dive, spouting our xxxxx from under
    Off with one helluva roar!
    We live in fame or go down in xxxxxx.
    Hey!Nothing can stop the x.x. Air Force!

    (chorus II)
    Minds of xxx fashioned a crate of thunder
    Sent it high into the blue
    Hands of xxx blasted the world a-sunder
    How they lived xxx only knew!
    Xxxxx of xxx dreaming of skies to conquer
    Gave us wings, ever to soar!
    With xxxxx before And xxxxers galore.
    Nothing can stop the x.x. Air Force!

    Here’s a toast to the host
    Of those who love the vastness of the sky,
    To a friend we send a message of xxx xxxxxx xxx who fly.
    We xxxxx to those who gave their all of old
    Then down we roar to score the RAINBOW’s pot of gold.
    A toast to the host of xxx we boast, the x.x. Air Force!

    (Chorus III)
    Off we go into the wild sky yonder,
    Keep the wings level and true
    If you’d live to be a grey-haired wonder
    Keep the nose out of the blue!
    Flying xxx, guarding the nation’s xxxxxx,
    we’ll be there followed by more!
    In echelon we carry on,
    Hey!Nothing’ll stop the Air Force!
    Nothing’ll stop the x.x. Air Force!

  • GQ

    Berry Johns… Not really getting the point of your post??? How does it relate to Air Force Force Management and Botched Retirements?

  • Ms Dus T G

    I love how the writer of this article calls it the “AFPC drawdown”. What over half the AF doesn’t realize is that AFPC gets their guidance from higher HQs. This drawdown & all it’s changes in eligibility criteria & matrices comes directly from Air Staff. What they also don’t realize is that there are approximately 15 total technicians working thousands upon thousands of eligibility & applications… And as General Cox put it, they are human, thru make mistakes just like every single one of you. Trust me, I’ve been there, & it is very difficult to handle all of these programs & the tons of different criteria for each one all at once. Plus, when Air Staff initiated the “strategic delay” for almost 2 weeks, that threw off the timelines. AFPC even continued to do their best during that “pause” to get things ready for them to be given the green light to continue processing but with the changes to the matrices & everything else, their efforts were mostly in vain. Even now, AFPC is at the mercy of Air Staff in regards to the remaining cases that are still waiting to hear their fate. AFPC can’t send out any about these delay issues without higher approval. Try being the one that has to tell these people the bad news that there is still no determination on their application yet… it sucks!!!! I understand the frustration. But as for those that were originally told they were eligible & then received a disapproval, all guidance stated “eligibility does not guarantee approval” as well as the matrices stating they are subject to change without warning. No permanent life plans should’ve been made, such as spouses putting in their notice from work & putting homes up for sale, without that final approval. Until y’all have been in these poor personnelists shoes & actually know where the guidance comes from, you don’t have a lot of room to talk.

    • Buddy Holly

      Lol. Listen to this REMF whine about how hard it is to ride a desk. Shove off and join an AA group if you want someone to listen to your imbecile opinion.

    • Tony Carr

      1. This article focuses on people who were APPROVED and then had it revoked. That’s different from eligibility. The AF agreed by restoring their approvals. You’re 100% in the wrong on this part.

      2. A retirement or separation is not worth anything to anyone if it can’t be given with enough notice to plan a transition. Right now you have people who are scheduled to begin leave and PTDY and need to go do job interviews, take certifications, apply for schools, market houses . . . this is why the USAF standard for notification of any relocation action has always been 120 days. Only in the last few years have we invaded that standard, because we know it destroys lives.

      3. I don’t have anything against the technicians caught in the middle of this. I fault their leaders for failing to plan and executing poorly. I fault those caught in the middle only to the extent that they become apologists for the failures of their organizations, kinda like your post.

      4. Yes, people make mistakes. The difference between the operational and non-operational worlds is that commanders in the operational AF tend to hold their people accountable for mistakes rather than protecting them.

      I could go on, but I think you catch my drift. I appreciate your willingness to comment, but I deeply differ with you on just about everything you have to say.

  • Perry Smythe Whitherspoon

    Tony keeps talking about commanders as if they are capable of holding people accountable. Guess he never got that call from a commander who wants to allow his 3-time DWI troop reenlistment because he is a “good troop.” Or the commander who argues for the guy with the “4 EPR” to get a STEP promotion because he really, really deserves it. Or the commander who calls the day before a deployment and says his girl can’t go because her Mom is having surgery next month.

    The Air Force needs AFPC just like the Navy needs BUPERS and the Army needs their personnel weenies. They are removed from the operational environment and can make decisions fairly to everyone throughout the service based on AFIs and not emotions. Commanders only worry about their own troops getting ahead. AFPC worries about nobody but ensures everyone is treated fairly.

    Unless a General calls on your behalf. Then AFPC caves and gives the General whatever he wants. What we need is less officers and more drones. Then we can get back to business.

    As for the late retirement and separation notifications…boo frigging who. Maybe you should all go shopping for new panties and take your mind off it for a while. Spoiled babies!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you tony-this person is the exact reason our organization is toxic

  • Anonymous


  • Perry Smythe Whitherspoon

    Great news! The Air Force is now allowing those deployed and on short tours to apply for TERA and separation regardless of when they are due to return to US soil. They also went back and approved all retirements that were approved in error and then disapproved even though these airmen didn’t meet the requirements outlined in the force management messages. Permissive TDY is now approved for all approved for force management programs even though it had been denied for all previous force management programs for the last 100 years. And, the first 100 airmen to volunteer to separate or retire in the next 7 days get a free Hap Arnold Bobble Head!!

    The monkeys are officially running the zoo.

    Welcome to the new Air Force! Do you want fries with that?

    • Anonymous

      You sir are a fool-if you truly believe this sarcastic message will retain the talent the organization you seem so determined to justify needs then I would suggest you do a little introspection-I am willing to guess you are ambivalent to the fact that the rats are fleeing the sinking ship and I wish you luck when you announce a stop-loss in 3 years

    • Buddy Holly

      You are a troll and a perfect example of what’s wrong with the military.

  • el Chuba-C17Load-cabra

    Latest AirForceTimes had an article on this very subject saying it was only corrected because a “Tony Carr, Air Force Blogger” wrote about the mis-managment and brought the subject to light. Congrats on making this happen and even thought you’re no longer on active duty, you’re still working to keep some “top cover” for us!

    • Perry Smythe Whitherspoon

      Yes. Thank Jesus Christ for Tony Carr. Facebook is now officially in the Air Force chain of command. I heard Grumpy Cat say something about the Air Force on YouTube. General Cox should check it out. The cat may have some uniform suggestions.

      And I thought McPeak was crazy. Jeez!

      • Buddy Holly

        You need to keep your stupid comments to yourself.

      • Tony Carr

        I’ll be happy when I no longer have any reason to critique the US Air Force . . . an institution I have loved since age 17 and still love today. From your comments here, I’m guessing I’ll have a lot less to write about when people like you have moved on to setting pins in a bowling alley somewhere and left the job of employing airpower to those with something between their ears other than oatmeal.

        Since you seem to be an expert on how the generals feel about this blog, why don’t you send them a few emails and see if they share your opinion of me. The answer might surprise you.

        • Perry Smythe Whitherspoon

          I love America, not the US Air Force. If it weren’t for the military industrial complex, the Air Force would have been scrapped in 1992.

          The US Air Force actually is against the law in that the Key West Agreement does not allow for duplicate missions by American military services. Being the Air Force is the youngest service, it really must disband immediately to comply with Federal Laws.

          Here is what Grumpy Cat says you should tell General Cox to do next Tony:

          1. Get rid of the Air Force and turn bases over to States.
          2. Give airlift missions to civilian pilots in the DOT.
          3. Give cyber command to the NSA.
          4. Merge the Army and Marine Corps.
          5. Admit the A-10 always should have been Army tactical support
          6. Give Space Command/ICBMs to civilians at NASA or Virgin Galactic
          7. Scrap fighters and bombers and replace with Navy drones/cruise missiles.
          8. Tell Korea, Japan, Germany, and England the free ride is over.
          9. Give homeland security all Patriot Missiles
          10. Order Pentagon Federal Credit Union to stop charging ATM fees.

          He can probably give AAFES to the NEX too.

          • Buddy Holly

            Sounds like Perry got buggered during basic. It’s the only logical explanation for why he’s so butthurt and angry at the USAF.

          • Prophet

            I only hope you don’t vote

  • Perry Smyther Whitherspoon

    I’m no angrier than Billy Mitchell was in 1925. He was right that we needed long range bombers to destroy an enemy’s ability to make war. But this in not 1925. We no longer need long range bombers or pilots. A PFC in Nevada can kill people by remote control at 1/1000 the price it takes an officer to do so from an F-22. And that PFC isn’t whining about early retirement or a fat aviation bonus. Missiles, drones, monitors and joysticks are the immediate future of military aviation. AI is the long term goal. Air Force pilots can still support their local communities by driving sanitation vehicles. Lots of buttons and levers in those garbage trucks.

    You fly boys need to get over yourselves. America is getting sick of your whining and country club antics. You are obsolete!

    • Anonymous

      Oh and the truth is out…just old fashioned jealousy after all-your analysis is incorrect and your statement reminds me of a high school backup quarterback just begging the coach to put him in-grow up

    • Buddy Holly

      Lol. The truth finally comes out. You’re just a sad REMF who is angry he had to ride a desk instead of getting to wear the flight suit. Well I speak for all of us “flyboys” when I say that yes, it’s true; the flight suit gets us way more women than any groundie’s uniform. And it’s way more comfortable. Maybe you should try working on that angry loser personality of yours if you want a piece of the action. Posting rubbish here certainly won’t help you.

      • Perry Smythe Whitherspoon

        Ironic. Buddy Holly died in a plane crash on 4 Feb 1959.

        “Gets us way more women”? Do you really speak for all pilots? Is the goal to get women or destroy the enemy’s ability to wage war? Sounds like you need some sensitivity and diversity training.

        “REMF”? Do you really speak for all pilots? Is that what you all think about those who have served honorably for 20 years or more?

        “Groundies”? Do you really speak for all pilots? Is that what you really think about your support teams?

        Here is a lesson for you and Tony Carr. If you wish to air the Air Force’s dirty laundry in public, then you had better get a shitload of Clorox ready.

        Happy Easter everyone and thank you for your service!! Especially those at AFPC who work to support these spoiled bastards!!!

        • Buddy Holly

          Lol. Didn’t bother reading all of your long post since you have confirmed long ago that you are just a jealous troll. Maybe you should find a hobby dude. No one here cares what you think. You can take your insincere platitudes and stow them in your desk alongside the best medal you ever earned, your precious longevity medal. Prick.

        • Tony Carr

          You’re a mK1 pilot hater whose next original thought will be your first. What I can’t figure out is why you’ve kept coming back over the past year and posting under different pseudonyms. If your logic is really so bullet-proof, why not de-cloak and take credit for your brilliance?

        • Monty

  • Anonymous

    Folks, let it go. This “Perry” person is a troll. He’s succeeded in getting your goats. Don’t feed the troll.

    I was never a flyer, but was and am still proud of my service in the world’s greatest Air Force. My service contributed to the AF’s success. So did yours. We – at least most of us – post here because we care about the way things are now in today’s AF. Have seen an awful lot of good stuff posted here.

    Before he started ranting and raving, “Perry” had some good points about the types of things AFPC has to deal with. I can believe some of the calls commanders could make to AFPC.

    My suggestion to Tony – just ignore “Perry”. Not worth the time.


    • Tony Carr

      Oh, I’m firmly ignoring the dumbass. Like I said, he’s been coming here since I stood up the blog . . . he signs in under different names and does his trolling anonymously. Like most trolls, he’s not only clueless, but a coward.

      I do occasionally find it necessary to denounce trolls, just to make it clear they’re unwelcome. I relish the interactions of those who genuinely care about the issues showcased here, and it’s important to me they understand I have no tolerance for fools. Beyond that minimal objective, I grant idiots like this one no attention whatsoever.

  • Al Tross

    Perry may be obnoxious but he has a point. The airmen who were offered retirement by mistake had other avenues than turning to the internet to air their grievances. Every other airmen, soldier, sailor, and marine has to use the DD149 to address injustices? Why not these airmen? Special treatment never leads to any good. And you just cost the taxpayers millions in pay and benefits for airmen who were not eligible to retire, but now magically are?

    You have the First Amendment right to blog about military “injustices” and you bear no guilt here. But Air Force Senior Leadership should be ashamed of their actions. Changing the rules of a program in mid stride cannot be good for overall morale. Giving a few airmen special treatment to “put out a PR fire” was cowardly and is a sad reflection on the quality of all Air Force officers.

    • Anonymous

      “Changing the rules of a program in mid-stride” is what has happened with vsp and Tera the whole time, well before this blog. I suggest you look at ops tempo and personnel management practices if you are truly concerned with morale, not a handful of early retirements. Please do a little research before interjecting opinions.

      • Tony Carr

        You’re wrong to think this happens in isolation. How we treat people on their way out the door matters, not only to our relationship with the society we serve, but to the ability to attract and retain the people we need to win wars.

        • Beverly Garside

          Actually, the way the AF is treating people in this draw down is nothing new either. I’m talking about the DOS rollback of 1988. I don’t know the big picture – we didn’t have access to that back then. I do know that all the shif-workers in 6940th ESW were elated and declared their intention not to re-enlist. There was no “eligibility” to be debated – everyone who fell into the time window before the end of their current enlistment was automatically included. So they all started out-processing, their spouses quit their jobs in preparation to move back to their homes of record, everything was in full swing. Then the Wing realized that so many people were getting out, there would be no more Wing. They would be lucky to have Group left. So the Wing declared that wait a minute, maybe they weren’t going to let everyone out after-all. My husband’s watch center joined the fray, trying to have him declared “personally essential to national security.” Then on the big AF level, they declared that everyone getting out early who had previously re-enlisted, would have to pay back a portion of their re-enlistment bonus, because they would not have served out the whole of their new term. It was a hot mess on wheels and people were furious. In our case, my husband just threatened his watch center that he would come clean about a serious illness he’d been hiding from the AF and get put out that way if they didn’t let him go. Even if he had to pay back part of the re-up bonus to do it. In the end, they let everyone go who initially declared, and didn’t try to charge anyone for their bonuses. But only after all that chaos, bile, and threats. The Wing shrank down to a Group. I’d like to think all the day types who re-upped got put on watch to replace them, but I wasn’t around to see what happened. Just that it seems to be happening all over again, except on a larger scale.

          • RickEnRota

            Yep, in the 1988 drawdown, commanders initially thought AFPC would sent replacements for those that were going to leave. When they found out that there wasn’t any plan to replace anyone, they threw a fit. AFPC stood by the decision and Air Staff agreed that commanders are responsible for the mission and if they approved separation requests and not reading the guidance (that there will be no replacements) they’d have to suck it up. Lots of units changed AF wide from that downsizing and commanders learned to read the HR guidance closer.

  • Beverly Garside

    Wow, I didn’t know that. It seems odd though – “replacements?” Where were replacements supposed to come from? Especially in the chronically stressed AFSC’s like those in the 6940th? If they had replacements for us, they wouldn’t have been paying us SRB’s – which those people who opted to re-up early got just like normal.

    • Perry Smythe Whitherspoon

      What you don’t know, Beverly, could fill an encyclopedia. This is why women should leave the fighting, and thinking, to the men. There was no DOS Rollback in 1988. It was VSI/SSB. And units did receive replacements through command leveling within each MAJCOM and, eventually, PCS moves within the AF when necessary. Sure, some units weren’t able to keep up their attacks on Southern Utah, but those bombing ranges were still there when the supply of tissue ran out and the crybabies got back in their cockpits. Then those prairie dogs paid double for their aggressions.

      Did any of you braniacs stop and think that the Kenyan in Chief wants the drawdown to be painful? F. (ch) Uck Hagel has been given his marching orders. “Make the sequestration hurt!”

      • Anonymous

        Perry, the good info you’ve provided on occasion is overshadowed by your assholiness. Stay classy, bud…


      • Balls, party of two, your table is ready

        Not sure you are aware, but it is possible to kick yourself in the nuts without any assistance, I suggest you give it a try.

      • Tony Carr

        I’m OK with most of your bullshit, but not all of it. If you won’t retract the sexism in this last comment of yours, your IP address will be banned. I’m tolerant of comments that fit within the ambit of a self-critical society, but not tolerant of remarks that indicate pathology or extremism. Yours exhibit misogyny . . . not to mention galactic-level stupidity. Recall these comments or be banned, anonymous rogue.

        • Perry Smythe Whitherspoon

          Oh, don’t get hysterical Mary. You’ll blow a chivalry gasket and have to get your armor re-Simonized.

          Anyone who reads just a few lines of any of my posts can see I am purposely over-the-top for shock value and humor. You can no more label me a misogynist based on the vileness of my rhetoric than you can Michelle Obama a gardener based on the filthiness of her hoe.

          But you Tony Carr. You are indeed a hypocrite. Defending the honor of the lady while you needlessly smear all men and women at AFPC with your tabloid headlines and actions verbs such as “Mangles” and “Botches”. As if every mistake AFPC ever makes is an overt action meant to harm some poor, unsuspecting airman. Your headlines belong in a tabloid rag in the Commissary checkout with “Hillary had Vince Foster Killed”, “Barack Obama had an affair with Vera Baker”, and “Bill Clinton was Impeached”! Lies, lies, and more lies.

          I am man enough to apologize to those I have offended. Are you man enough to apologize to the hard working women and men at AFPC who you personally harmed with your scathing and undeserved assessment of their performance?

          Yes, Tony Carr. The truth is, if you ban me, then you must also ban yourself twice. Just don’t ban yourself three times or you may go blind.

          P.S. “attica, Attica, ATTICA!!!!”



          • Tony Carr

            This comment is almost as entertaining as it is unserious. Had you always been this entertaining, your mean-spirited assholishness would have seemed more tolerable.

            Please keep your comments on or at least near the paved surface to retain your posting privileges. Thanks as always for the gratuitous insults. You’re obviously provoked enough by what is written here to interact, and I’ll almost always count interaction as a positive, even if it means tolerating trolls like you occasionally. If, on the other hand, you’re just showing up to make trouble . . . well, you’ll eventually talk yourself into being banned. I’m sure, given your behavior, it won’t be the first or last time it happens to you. But until then, I welcome your continued participation.

  • Anonymous

    Would you stop clogging these posts with your ignorant rampblings…get a life.

  • Helpless Airman / Food for the system

    Tony, this craziness is not over yet! I feel like a little mouse the AF can’t decide to let free or eat.

    In February I applied for VSP.
    In March I was disappointed.
    In April I was strategically paused.
    In mid-May, 10 workdays after May 1, I was disappointed again when another promised deadline for a decision on my VSP passed.
    On May 12, I was notified that I would meet a RIF board on October 1.

    Living in a land of uncertainty with no control–I can’t quit but I might get fired and the uncertainty will continue for almost a year.

    With no integrity, no responsibility, and most of all, no compassion from those in control.

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