WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force will move forward with newly announced efforts to trim active-duty personnel and civilian workers even if Congress approves a budget deal to give more money to the military, Air Force officials said Friday.
“If we look at (the) Air Force in 2023, it's going to have to look different than it looks today,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III told reporters. “And part of that will be that it has to be smaller. ... We will have to eliminate force structure; we will have to draw down people.”
The Air Force announced this week that it will use a variety of programs — both voluntary and involuntary — to pare up to 25,000 airmen from the service over the next five years; the Air Force also announced that it will reduce the size of its civilian force by 900 positions this year while maintaining 7,000 vacancies across the service.
At the end of September, the Air Force had about 327,000 active-duty personnel and about 180,000 civilian workers.
The Air Force has not announced where the personnel cuts will occur.
Oklahoma has three Air Force bases: Tinker Air Force Base near Midwest City, Vance Air Force Base near Enid and Altus Air Force Base.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, of Tulsa, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, warned last month that the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration would affect critical missions like training and maintenance at every military base in Oklahoma.