The Air Force will not go ahead with involuntary force reductions planned for fiscal 2015, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Tuesday during an online forum.
“[Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh and I] are in agreement that enough is enough,” James said as she neared her first anniversary at her post. “We have reduced far enough. We will not go lower, and we will fight to hold on to the numbers now that we have.”
In 2014, the Air Force selected more than 13,000 airmen for voluntary separation and more than 6,000 to leave involuntarily, reported Stars and Stripes. The service is planning to shrink its end strength to 310,900 by September 2015 — down from more than 327,000 this year — and will need to rely on voluntary reductions or separation pay.
“We need to make sure we work to get to the right balance over the next few years,” James said.
She also said she expected the Air Force to continue to trim its use of contractors, a goal the service met over the last year.
The Air Force is asking senior leaders to “justify one more time why they need that particular contract,” James said. “If it doesn’t appear essential going forward, then we are saying perhaps we need to do without it.”