Murray Talks Deployments, Force Shaping
Murray Talks Deployments, Force Shaping
1st Class Jonathan Ortiz-Torres, Air
University Public Affairs
Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama -- (AFPN)
June 24, 2004 -- Combat needs, not current manpower
standards, are what Air Force officials are using to determine how many people
are filling the ranks, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Gerald Murray said.
This, he said, is the first time in Air Force history that combat needs have
been the determining factor.
Chief Murray discussed this and other current issues during his visit here for
the 10th Annual Worldwide Command Chief Master Sergeants’ conference June 19 to
“We’re engaged in a war that perhaps is not going to end any time soon, so we
need to be prepared for that,” Chief Murray said. “We have to focus on training,
on our leadership and our efforts of preparing our Airmen mentally, physically
and emotionally to deal with the rigors of deployment.”
One hot topic is force shaping which is designed to return the Air Force to its
authorized uniformed population by September 2005.
“How do we bring our force structure down by 20,000 people without losing any of
our combat capabilities and without forcing out good quality Airmen that want to
stay with us?” asked Chief Murray.
“That’s our greatest challenge and clearly concerns our force; however, we will
continue to work toward balancing the force,” he said.
Fifteen years ago, the Air Force was 40 percent larger than it is today with
about 660,000 active-duty Airmen. Today, the force is just shy of 360,000
active-duty people, yet the service is deploying more than four times more than
it did back in 1990 before operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Chief
“While we are deploying more, for the first time in history over the last couple
of years we have been identifying the requirements of our force based on our
combat expeditionary needs, not off manpower standards, on how many people (for
example) we would have working here on Maxwell Air Force Base, but truly what we
would need for combat,” he said.
Finding ways to reduce the number of critically manned and stressed career
fields in the Air Force is also a part of the plan to balance the force.
Examples are the noncommissioned officer retraining program, reinstating the
career job reservation program and redirecting accessions in basic training.
“These measures are beginning to show a positive effect on increasing balance in
our force,” Chief Murray said. “And on top of that, it’s also (Air Force Chief
of Staff) General (John P.) Jumper’s commitment to continue in everyway we can
to try to get every Airman in our Air Force to be deployable. By increasing our
deployment pools, again we minimize the stress on those Airmen in constant
As the chief master sergeant of the Air Force, he said his most important job is
talking with Airmen and listening to what they are saying.
“First of all, today I see great pride in our Airmen in the jobs that they are
doing out there,” he said. “In 27 years of the Air Force, I have not seen the
Air Force any better than what it is today.
“Our Airmen are certainly letting me know that they are challenged, and they are
certainly talking about the (operations) tempo and the increased deployment
workload that we’re under,” he said. “There’s a price that we are paying by
having so many Airmen deployed. It’s not only how hard they’re working deployed,
but how hard they’re also working at home stations by having teams separated.”
One example of concerns being addressed is the recent pull-back of code “C”
limitations. A code “C” designation is given to Airmen with certain medical
“Our Airmen spoke out about that and that’s part of the reason we decided to
step back and conduct a thorough analysis of the processes we use to look at
those individuals that are not available for deployment due to medical
limitations,” he said.
There are currently more than 7,000 Airmen that are not eligible for worldwide
deployments, and about 3,600 of those are designated as permanently in that
category, Chief Murray said.
“Combat readiness, deployments and deployability is a major concern for us,”
Chief Murray said. “We’ll continue to work with the senior leaders of our Air
Force, our Air Staff, and (major commands) to balance our force to meet that
Chief Murray also discussed quality-of-life issues.
“We always have quality of life in our sights because it deals with our pay, our
benefits and compensations, our housing, workplace and environments that affect
our Airmen and their families,” he said.
People can expect to see many improvements in infrastructure, he said. Officials
have invested in renovating or replacing more than 5,000 dormitory rooms and
more than 30,000 housing units across the force.
It is clear that the Air Force is going through major changes, and as Chief
Murray said, “(Air Force leaders) are leading (Airmen) in a historic and
exciting time.” (Courtesy of Air Education and Training Command News Service)