A critical manning shortage has prompted the U.S. Air Force to launch a recruitment effort to lure officers and enlisted retirees back into service.
Through the Voluntary Retired Return to Active Duty Program (VRRAD), the Air Force is seeking up to 1,000 retirees to return to active duty for a variety of special duty positions, including pilot, air traffic control, airfield operations, and combat systems.
The program began accepting applications Thursday.
“[Under] this VRRAD program, the period of active duty service is limited to no more than 48 months,” the Air Force said in a statement. “Personnel will only fill vacant active duty authorizations. “Retired applicants selected for extended active duty can expect to return to active duty anywhere from four to six months from their date of application.”
The move comes as the Air Force continues to grapple with personnel shortfalls, including a persistent shortage of about 2,000 pilots. In September, the service said it had again missed its annual aviator training goal after reporting a shortfall of training 120 airmen for fiscal 2023.
“The VRRAD program is a strategic enabler to embrace experienced talent, tapping into a valuable resource of retired members to fill critical roles to close the gap against our peer competitors,” Lieutenant General Caroline Miller, the deputy chief of staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services, said in a statement.
Those who come back to service through the program will return to their grade at retirement and will be ineligible for other programs, such as aviation bonuses or promotion, Air and Space Forces magazine reported.
The service is seeking commissioned officers in the grade of captain through lieutenant colonel, saying that while all who are eligible may apply, it is targeting the following specific fields:
11X – Pilot
12X – Combat Systems
13B – Air Battle Manager
13H – Aerospace Physiologist
13M – Airfield Operations
13N – Nuclear and Missile Operations
14X – Information Operations/Intelligence
15X – Operations Analysis and Weather
16X – Operations Support
17X – Cyber Operations
18X – Remotely Piloted Aircraft
19Z – Special Warfare
21X – Logistics
31P – Security Forces
32E – Civil Engineering
35P – Public Affairs
38F – Force Support Officer
61X – Scientific/Research
62X –Developmental Engineering
63X – Acquisition
64P – Contracting
65X – Finance
71S – Special Investigation
The program limits retired enlisted to those in the grade of staff sergeant through senior master sergeant in the following targeted fields:
1C171 – Air Traffic Control
2G071 – Logistics Plans
2T377 – Fleet Management & Analysis
3F071 – Personnel
3P071 – Security Forces
4A271 – Biomedical Equipment
4E071 – Public Health
4N071 – Aerospace Medical Service
4R071 – Diagnostic Imaging
7S071 – Special Investigations
8R000/8R200 – Recruiter(s)
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