ROTC cadets with the University of Colorado-Boulder's Det 105 attend a weekly class on campus. The Air Force is offering soon-to-be graduates the option of seeking relief from their service commitment or going into the Air National Guard or Reserve. (University of Colorado-Boulder)
Each year, about 1,500 ROTC cadets are commissioned as second lieutenants in the active-duty Air Force, but personnel cuts across the service are eliminating slots for the new college graduates.
Now the Air Force is looking for cadets to volunteer to join the Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard. The Air Force also is allowing ROTC cadets to request to be released from their active-duty service commitments without repaying their scholarships or stipends.
The Total Force Commissioning Process, announced July 10, “allows us to provide opportunities for high quality cadets to continue serving, albeit in our Reserve components,” Lt. Gen. Sam Cox, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, said in the release. “Unfortunately, given budget reductions, the Air Force must reduce its active duty force, limiting the number of cadets we can accept into the active component.”
The voluntary phase will be followed by an involuntary phase.
“The biggest challenge with the new process is the short time frame we have for implementation,” said Brig. Gen. Brian Kelly, the director of force management policy for the Air Force.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Voluntary phase: Cadets graduating from now through Dec. 31, 2015, may apply for the service commitment waiver or to a Guard or Reserve unit. Cadets seeking relief from their commitment will be told by late October whether their request was approved.
Involuntary phase: After the volunteer phase for release from service commitments and application to units in the Guard and Reserve, the Air Force will begin selecting the officers it intends to retain in the active-duty force in a “merit process.”
Factors that will determine whether a cadet is commissioned include detachment commander rank, field training rank, Air Force Officer Qualification Test score, academic aptitude and cumulative grade point average.
3. Other options: Cadets who are not retained can stay in the Individual Ready Reserve and pursue positions in the Guard and Reserve, the release said.
Recruiters will be available to help cadets decide which unit has openings and fits with their skills.
4. Who can’t apply: Right now, only ROTC cadets can apply for the service commitment waivers or spots with the Guard and Reserve. The approximately 1,000 cadets who are commissioned out of the Air Force Academy each year are not affected, nor are the 500 to 800 cadets who are commissioned through Officer Training School each year.
5 Shrinking numbers.The Air Force plans to reduce the number of second lieutenants by about 400 this fiscal year, from 6,899 in 2013 to 6,432, according to budget documents submitted to Congress. As of July 17, the Air Force had 6,853 second lieutenants. The number of second lieutenants commissioned through ROTC so far this year is 833, down from 1,344 in 2013.