By Jim Garamone
WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2006 – As the Air Force and Navy continue to transform themselves, the two services are finding they do not need the number of people they once did. But thanks to a program called "Operation Blue to Green," sailors and airmen chosen for separation can transfer to the Army and remain on active duty. The two "blue" services are scrubbing their officer and enlisted ranks and eliminating jobs. The Air Force, for example, will draw down by 40,000 jobs in the next few years.
"These are highly qualified and motivated people," said Army Lt. Col. Deborah Stewart, the chief of officer accessions policy at the directorate of manpower and personnel management at the Pentagon. "The Blue to Green program allows them to continue to serve."
The program allows qualified airmen and sailors to transfer to the Army. This year, there is a $10,000 bonus for those accepted into the program.
Enlisted personnel in grades E-1 to E-5 retain their ranks and time in grade when they transfer. Officers retain their rank and date of rank. All who transfer go through the Army's Warrior Transition Course - a four-week course to show the airmen and sailors how the Army does things.
If those who wish to transfer have specialty codes that translate to Army jobs, then they do not need to retrain, Stewart said. "An MP is an MP, whether Army or Air Force," she said.
Other career fields that transfer easily are military intelligence, administration, supply and transportation. "The majority of the jobs that are open are in combat support, combat service support specialties," she said.
In fiscal 2006, 172 airmen and sailors transferred into the Army - 152 from the Air Force and 52 from the Navy, according to officials at the Army Human Resources Command. The goal was 200.
Air Force officials said the program has a pretty good jump start for fiscal 2007. "To date, we've have 69 enlisted (members) apply -- 25 approved, 44 pending," said Air Force Lt. Col. Jimmy Standridge, chief of the separations branch at the Air Force Personnel Center, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. "On the officer side, we have 84 applications -- 63 approved and 21 still pending."
The Army cannot say what the goal for fiscal 2007 is yet. That depends on Air Force "force-shaping" boards that will determine how many positions will be cut from the service's rolls. The officer board will be held in March, and while it's not expected to be as large as previous boards, it will still identify a number of people for separation. Standridge said those people will be offered the Blue to Green option.
Report sponsored by Army gifts.