FLYING Magazine

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. 

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“[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. 

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“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. 

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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)

More information about the VRRAD program may be found here

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