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The Air Force announced Tuesday that it had reached its fiscal 2011 end-strength goal for enlisted airmen, ending early voluntary and involuntary enlisted force-cutting programs.
The service announced last March it was cutting about 6,000 active-duty airmen — enlisted and officer — to return to its congressionally mandated end strength of 332,800. In February 2010, end strength stood at about 335,500.
In December, the Air Force announced a program that pushed up the separation dates for enlisted airmen with less than 14, or more than 20, years in service who had not been recommended for retention by their commanders.
"Because we met our fiscal year 2011 enlisted end-strength goal, we won't need to conduct the two remaining date-of-separation rollback phases planned for this year," said Maj. Gen. Sharon Dunbar, director of force management policy, in a news release.
Airmen affected by the rollback program will be separated or retired by May 31, according to the release.
The announcement also puts an end to the special provisions in the Palace Chase program, which allowed airmen to finish active service in the Air National Guard or the reserves, and a number of other early out waiver programs.
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy said in the release that the cuts were painful but necessary. "The Air Force must balance the desire of airmen wanting to serve with the need to operate within its congressionally authorized end strength," Roy said.