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About 90 lieutenant colonels and 150 colonels could be selected for early retirement when the Selective Early Retirement Board meets Dec. 9.
The Air Force Personnel Center said that 160 SERB-eligible lieutenant colonels and 170 eligible colonels applied for voluntary retirement by the Nov. 15 deadline. If all those retirements are approved, AFPC spokeswoman Paige Hughes said, then roughly 300 lieutenant colonels and 500 colonels will go before the board Dec. 9.
Hughes said that no more than 30 percent of the officers in each grade and in each competitive category can be selected for retirement under a SERB.
This SERB is one of the several force management programs the cash-strapped Air Force is using this fiscal year to try to get down to authorized end strength levels.
The board will consider lieutenant colonels who have been passed over for promotion to colonel twice by Dec. 9, and who are in the Line of the Air Force — meaning they exercise general authority, not in a particular specialty — or in the Nurse Corps, Biomedical Service Corps, Judge Advocate General and Medical Services Corps.
The board also will consider colonels from the same career fields with four years or more of active-duty time-in-grade by Dec. 9. But colonels who met the 2010 or 2012 boards, and were not separated, will not be considered.
SERB-eligible officers who applied for retirement by Nov. 15 are able to request a retirement date of up to Sept. 1, 2014. Other eligible officers may still apply for retirement but will still meet the board. If they are selected, they will have a July 1, 2014, retirement date assigned to them.
The Air Force also has faced a promotion logjam problem in recent years, that it hopes the SERB will help fix. Colonels are staying in the Air Force longer, which means there are fewer vacancies for lieutenant colonels to move up into. This has a domino effect for majors and captains, who also can’t get promoted.
For example, the Air Force canceled the majors board that would have been held December 2013 due to record high retention. In November, it pushed back the next board, which was originally expected to be held next summer, to December 2014, to minimize the time between when a captain is selected for promotion and when he pins on his new rank. The last time a majors board was held was in December 2012.
At the last SERB, held in October 2011, 38 percent of the 305 lieutenant colonels who were eligible for the board volunteered for retirement. Another 31 SERB-eligible officers in the medical and chaplain corps were taken off the eligibility list, because those career fields met their reduction numbers. Of the 158 lieutenant colonels who faced the board, 47 — or 30 percent — were selected for early retirement.