The new head of Air Force Reserve Command wants to attract and retain airmen with unique jobs and predictability.
Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, who assumed command of AFRC after Gen. Maryanne Miller moved to Air Mobility Command, told reporters on Wednesday that the command is set to grow by 200 airmen this year.
However, the command is still short about 1,400 full-time maintainers.
“We’ve struggled with the maintainer piece because as our economy has improved there are a lot of job opportunities out there,” Scobee said on the final day of the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference outside Washington..
The three-star said he’s focusing on three things: recruitment, retention and relocation.
“I want to give people a community to serve in that best suits the needs of their family,” he said. “And I want to pay them commensurate to what they could get — or close to it — on the outside. You can never make exactly in the military what you could on the outside, but I need to get close enough to incentivize people to stay.”
Scobee said the command is working to steadily increase the number of maintainers. This includes moving some full-time maintainers into different units.
Airmen now have more options for how to complete the transition program.
Scobee said he’s focused on giving citizen airmen the best pay and benefits package possible to entice them to join and stay in the Air Force Reserve.
“So we’re trying to bring that AGR pay status, that full-time pay status, into our maintainers as well because … we’re trying to ensure we give airmen pay statuses that best suit their needs,” he said.
AFRC is working with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Air Force secretary’s staff, as well as with members of Congress, in an attempt to improve reservists' pay and benefits.
“We have … to work with Congress in order to change some of the legislation,” Scobee said.
In addition to monetary incentives, Scobee said predictability is a huge factor in keeping airmen happy.
“What we’re trying to do is get a battle rhythm of how often entire organizations are on the hot seats of deployments,” he said.
Letting airmen know when they’ll go to training or be deployed will help them balance their civilian lives with their employers and families.
“If I can give you predictability when you’re going to all these things, now you have a calendar,” he said. “When I create an environment that has pain in it, retention goes down.”