Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson on Monday night said that the Air Force’s fiscal 2020 budget will call for an end strength increase of about 4,400 airmen.

In response to a tweet from this reporter, which attempted to make a joke about trying to decipher end strength figures as part of Tuesday’s budget release, Wilson tweeted in response, “= +4,400.”

A total force increase of 4,400 would be slightly less than the total force increase of 4,700 that was included in the fiscal 2019 budget request last year.

Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein have made rebuilding the Air Force’s end strength a priority after the steep sequestration-driven drawdown of 2014 and 2015 cut thousands of airmen. Goldfein said last year that is a key step toward fixing morale troubles in the Air Force.

More information on the Air Force’s requested growth will be released later today in budget documents and at briefings at the Pentagon.

Stephen Losey covers leadership and personnel issues as the senior reporter for Air Force Times. He comes from an Air Force family, and his investigative reports have won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover Air Force operations against the Islamic State.

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