Accession Number:



Recruiting and Retaining Air Force Talent: The Key to Tomorrows Air Force

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Technical Report,25 May 2018,23 May 2019

Corporate Author:

US Army School of Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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Eighteen years of constant conflict have pushed each of the US service branches to the brink of exhaustion. For the Air Force to Fly, Fight and Win in the future requires recruiting the next generation of airmen while retaining those already in the Air Force. Unfortunately, factors both external and internal to the Air Force have become threats to recruiting and retention, forcing reconsideration of processes, policies and philosophies that have worked for years. Outside of Air Force control is the fact few of Americas youth are physically able to meet military entrance standards, and of those eligible, fewer are interested in military service for numerous reasons. This leaves all US service branches to compete for the same small talent pool. Additionally, the effects of the Department of Defense 2014 manning drawdown are still being felt, which to the Air Force resulted in a loss of approximately 20,000 airmen. Pay and benefits are also areas that are considered factors in the decision to join or stay. Internal Air Force factors are primarily due to balancing the unwavering ops tempo while overcoming drawdown effects. Quality of life issues for airmen and their families continue to hamper Air Force retention, leaving senior Air Force leadership struggling to maintain mission readiness. In the end, continued changes to recruiting, personnel management, retention efforts, and leadership methods must be refined to ensure the sustained talent pool needed to meet the challenges posed by ever-developing and technologically-advanced adversaries seeking to contest Americas national security.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations

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