Increased Air Force Sabbatical Leave for Airmen Who Stay In

air force pilot

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Military has explored a number of incentives in order to retain their servicemembers, including monetary bonuses. Now the Air Force has come up with a unique enticement for pilots and airmen to stay in uniform.

The Career Intermission Program (CIP) is increasing sabbatical leave from one year to three years.

CIP offers the opportunity for a one-time, temporary transition from active duty to the Individual Ready Reserve for beyween one and three years, while providing a seamless return to pre-CIP active-duty status. Air Force officials are hoping that this offer will be appealing enough to allow the service branch to be more competitive when recruiting new airmen, as well as holding on to current servicemembers.

According to Adriana Bazan, military personnel specialist at the Air Force Personnel Center, this  affords an avenue to meet the changing needs of today‘s servicemembers.

“This work-life flexibility initiative will enable the Air Force to retain talent, which reduces cost and adverse impacts on the mission,” said Bazan.

Airmen who participate in the program will receive a monthly stipend equal to two-thirtieths of their basic pay. They also retain full active-duty medical and dental benefits for themselves and their eligible dependents.

Airmen who are eligible for the program must serve two months on active duty for every month of leave taken.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson stated earlier this year that the Air Force was short by 1,544 pilots during fiscal year 2016.

There are also financial incentives to recommit, with some pilots eligible for a possible $25,000 per year commitment bonus.

Fighter pilots, who may be able to extend their career for nine additional years, could rack up an astounding $225,000 in retention bonuses.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Air Force Faces Shortage of Fighter Pilots

fighter pilor shortage

By Debbie Gregory.

The loss of highly trained and experienced pilots from the U.S. military to the private sector is a legitimate worry. And the U.S. Air Force says its deficit of fighter pilots is growing.

At the end of fiscal year 2016, the Air Force was short 750 fighter pilots, up from 511 at the end of the previous year.

“The health of the fighter pilot community is bad,” said Lt. Gen. Chris Nowland, Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements (AF/A3). “Recruiting and getting people on to fly is not a problem,” he added. “If you look across the Air Force, the quality of the individuals coming into the Air Force are some of the highest we ever had. That goes for the enlisted and officer force.”

The past 25 years of continuous combat operations has taken a toll on the Air Force fighter community. Compounding the problem since fiscal 2014, losses of fighter pilots have exceeded the Air Force’s annual production capacity.

The Air Force is tackling the problem of capacity.  There is a lot of infrastructure associated with ramping up pilot numbers.

The Air Force and has started several initiatives to fix problem areas with a threefold approach: reducing the number of fighter pilot requirements, increasing retention of pilots and increasing the production of new fighter pilots.

Much of the impact on the military flying community stems from the draw of commercial airlines, who have been hiring at an increased rate the past three years.

“There are three pillars that a lot of people focus on when considering staying in the military; quality of service, quality of life and monetary compensation,” said Col. Jason Cockrum, the AF/A3 director of staff. “Nobody in the civilian sector can compete with quality of service. What Airmen go out and do every day for our nation, you just can’t get that anywhere else.”

He continued, “So we are focused on improvements related to quality of life and monetary compensation. We are not going to be able to compete directly with the airline industry on the monetary piece, but we are focusing on how we can ensure the other two pillars offset any differences offered by the civilian sector.”

Air Forces Offers Up to $175K in Retention Bonuses for Drone Pilots

The "Reaper" has been chosen as the name for the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle. (Courtesy photo)

By Debbie Gregory.

As the Air Force tries to retain drone pilots, the service branch is offering critical skills retention bonuses worth a total of $175,000 if the pilots agree to serve five more years, or $35,000 for an additional year of commitment if they’re already receiving a similar CSRB or aviation retention pay bonus.

To be eligible, drone pilots must be in the 18X RPA pilots, 11U pilots who started on manned aircraft and permanently transitioned to RPAs, 11X pilot, 12U RPA combat systems officers, or 13U RPA air battle manager career fields, and their undergraduate RPA or flying training commitments must be expiring in fiscal 2016 or 2017.

Previously, the Air Force had floated a plan to offer $15,000 retention bonuses for commitments of either five years — for a total of $75,000 — or nine years, for a total of $135,000. At that time, due to the shortage, drone pilots were flying up to 900 hours a year, compared with fighter pilots, who were in the cockpit an average of 250 hours a year, according to Air Force officials.

The Air Force said the program will be retroactive for airmen whose commitment expired in 2016, and that applications for them must be submitted to the Air Force Personnel Center by Jan. 31, 2017.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.