The Air Force Says It Doesn't Plan To Recall Retired Pilots To Fix Shortage

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Air Force Capt. Sean Griffin looks back toward the engines of his A-10C Thunderbolt II before a Green Flag West 17-03 sortie at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan. 25, 2017. Griffin is a pilot assigned to the 74th Fighter Squadron.
U.S. Air Force photo

The Air Force says it doesn’t plan to use new authority granted by an amended executive order to recall retired pilots to correct an ongoing personnel shortage.


"The Air Force does not currently intend to recall retired pilots to address the pilot shortage," Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said on Sunday. "We appreciate the authorities and flexibility delegated to us."

Trump signed the order on Friday, granting additional authority to the Defense Department under Executive Order 13223.

A Pentagon spokesman said on Friday that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis requested the move.

Mattis was expected to delegate to the Air Force secretary the authority to recall up to 1,000 retired pilots for up to three years.

The Air Force is currently about 1,500 pilots shy of the 20,300 it is mandated to have. About 1,000 of those absent are fighter pilots. Some officials have deemed the shortage a "quiet crisis."

Under current law, the Air Force was limited to recalling 25 pilots; the executive order temporarily lifts that cap.

The Air Force has already pursued a number of new policies to retain current pilots and train new ones. In August, the service announced that it would welcome back up to 25 retired pilots who elected to return to fill "critical-rated staff positions" so active-duty pilots could continue in their current assignments.

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