JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – The Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard should benefit from active-duty Air Force force-shaping actions made necessary by record Air Force retention levels.
Amidst concerns during the ongoing pandemic, many active-duty Airmen who planned on retiring or separating in 2020 withdrew or delayed their plans. This resulted in the Air Force having its highest retention levels in 20 years. It also caused projected fiscal year 2021 end-strength numbers to exceed end-of-year goals.
To ensure end-strength numbers are manageable, the Department of the Air Force has implemented several voluntary officer and enlisted force management programs for fiscal 2021, including an expanded Palace Chase program and limited active-duty service commitment waivers.
These new policies have opened the door for the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard to benefit by gaining fully-qualified Airmen to help fill their ranks.
“We are excited to give these Airmen – who as a result of the Air Force end-strength challenges and this newly established force management program, are leaving the Air Force – the opportunity to voluntarily continue serving in the Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard,” said Col. Lisa Craig, Air Force Recruiting Service deputy commander.
“By joining one of the Air Reserve Components, these Airmen will continue to enjoy many of the benefits they received on active duty, including 100% tuition, while still working toward a retirement,” Craig said. “We welcome them with open arms as these fully-trained Airmen bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to our Reserve Components while they continue to wear our nation’s cloth, enjoy the camaraderie of service and give back to our country.”
Airmen interested in continuing their military career in one of the Air Reserve Components need to contact their Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard in-service recruiter immediately. Applications for Palace Chase and active-duty service commitment waivers must be submitted no later than April 2, 2021, and the member will need to request a separation date no later than Sept. 29, 2021.
Members interested in transitioning to the ARC need to meet the medical requirements determined by each component and secure a position in the Reserve or Guard unit they would like to join.
“In order to determine whether or not a member would be medically cleared, they need to contact their local ISR for documentation required to initiate review,” said Master Sgt. Tiffany Grullon, Air Force Reserve Command Palace Chase/Palace Front liaison. “Members interested in potential vacancies within the Air Force Reserve can visit the Air Force Personnel Center secure web site, and select ‘Reserve Vacancies.’ This gives them the ability to search for vacancies based on officer, enlisted, base, state and Air Force Specialty Code. For more information on Air National Guard vacancies, the member can visit www.goang.com or contact their local ANG ISR.”
The FY21 Expanded Palace Chase Program allows regular Air Force members who hold a specific AFSC and rank to request an early separation and transition into the Reserve or Guard to finish the remainder of their service contract.
For enlisted Airmen transitioning into an ARC position, the service commitment is reduced from the traditional two-to-one service obligation to a one-to-one exchange. For officers transitioning into an ARC position via Expanded Palace Chase, the service commitment is reduced from a three-to-one service obligation to a one-to-one exchange.
The Limited Active-Duty Service Commitment Waiver Program allows Airmen in selected Control AFSCs to request retirement or separation prior to completing specified active-duty service commitments, according to an Air Force Personnel Center memorandum.
“The best path for interested Airmen really depends on if they are qualified for one or both programs and their future plans,” Grullon said. “Their local in-service recruiter can assist in determining the best route and explain the process while keeping the Airman’s individual needs, wants and priorities in mind.”
It is up to the member to contact the ISR representing the component of his or her choice.
“It is highly encouraged that members explore all their options in order to be fully educated on their available opportunities,” Grullon said. “Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard ISRs are working diligently to be available for those who are interested. They are also working closely with their regular Air Force counterparts in the Military Personnel Flights along with the wing career advisors on their installations.”
Officers interested in transitioning to the Air Force Reserve will have an additional step in the process.
“They will need to meet with an Air Force Reserve ISR to initiate the scroll process,” Grullon said. “This process ensures that once the officer’s commission from the regular Air Force is resigned, they can be appointed for a Reserve commission. Appointments in the grades of lieutenant colonel and below in an Air Reserve Component will be made by the Secretary of Defense under Executive Order 13358. Since the process and timelines may differ for the ANG, it’s important for the member to get educated on the requirements from each respective component.”
The scroll processing time can vary due to the level of approval.
“The Air Force Reserve in-service recruiter can discuss these timeframes with the member along with how current turnaround should not affect the member’s requested date of separation,” Grullon said.
ISRs can also assist in determining how to best match the needs of the Reserve or Guard to those of separating Airmen.
Grullon said transitioning to the Guard or Reserve gives members an opportunity to serve on a part-time basis and pursue other goals.
“There is also the added bonus of health insurance, educational benefits and putting some extra cash in their pockets,” she said. “These members also get to keep that sense of camaraderie, which seems to be what most members who separate miss the most. I don’t think the Air Reserve Components need to be sold to anyone. If members are truly educated on what is available to them, this is simply a choice they can make to successfully get where they want to go.”
The common access card-accessible MyPers web site lists the career fields experiencing potential overmanning that are eligible for the voluntary force management programs. There is an officer and an enlisted matrix located under the “Related Resources” tab.
Members who don’t qualify for the FY21 Force Management Program may have other options for transitioning to the Guard or Reserve.
“The Expanded Palace Chase Program is derived from the regular Palace Chase Program,” Grullon said. “Those applying under regular Palace Chase can request to separate no earlier than half-way through their initial contract for enlisted and no earlier than two-thirds of the way through their ADSC for officers. Any AFSC can apply, but approvals and disapprovals will be determined based on the best interests of the Air Force and Air Reserve Component.”
If members need assistance contacting their in-service recruiter, Grullon advises them to check with their local force support squadron, or they can contact the service directly. The Air Force Reserve can be reached at 800-237-8279 or at www.afreserve.com. The Air National Guard can be reached at http://www.goang.com/.