HILL AIR FORCE BASE — While the Department of Defense’s active-duty force will likely shrink as a whole by September 2016, the Air Force is getting a nice bump in the opposite direction.
If the Fiscal Year National Defense Authorization Act is approved, it would reduce the overall size of America’s current active-duty military by more than 12,000 members. The NDAA authorizes the DOD’s active-duty personnel “end strength” to be set at 1,305,200. According to the Pentagon’s Defense and Data Manpower Center, there were 1,317,317 total active-duty members as of March 31, 2015.
Under the NDAA, Army active-duty manpower would fall most dramatically, dropping from its current total of 495,720 to 475,000 by September 2016. The Marine Corps would lose forces, too, although the loss would not be nearly as significant as the Army’s. The Marines currently have 184,688 active members, but that number would fall to 184,000.
Conversely, the Air Force will see its active force jump by nearly 6,000 members, rising from 311,176 to 317,000. The Navy would also see an increase in active forces rising from its current total of 325,733 to 329,200.
The Air Force fiscal 2016 budget includes 1,120 military and civilian personnel as part of a “Force Improvement Program” for the Air Force’s nuclear enterprise. As part of the plan, 158 technical and engineering staff positions will be added at Hill Air Force Base to support an initiative to recapitalize the Minuteman III infrastructure. Hill is home to the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center ICBM Systems Directorate, which is responsible for inception-to-retirement management of Minuteman weapon systems.
The Air Force also plans to increase its reserve force by about 2,000. According to an article in the Air Force Times, the reserve increase would add 200 full-time and 925 traditional reserve positions at Hill, Luke Air Force Base in Arizona and Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.