Airmen voice suggestions, initiate AMC Aviation Retention Task Force stand up

Capt. Matt Davis, 909th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker pilot, flies in formation with U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning IIs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, March 14, 2017, over the Pacific Ocean. The training sortie marked the first air refueling mission with F-35s in the 909th ARS’s area of operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

Capt. Matt Davis, 909th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker pilot, flies in formation with U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning IIs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, March 14, 2017, over the Pacific Ocean. The training sortie marked the first air refueling mission with F-35s in the 909th ARS’s area of operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Air Mobility Command commander stood up the AMC Aviation Retention Task Force May 3, 2017 after receiving more than 600 responses to a video published on social media mid-April to solicit ideas regarding Air Force aviation retention concerns. 

"We've received a tremendous outpouring of response to the aviation retention challenges,” said Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, Air Mobility Command commander. “We're actively considering all inputs to determine what potential solutions may be implemented and how best to inform policy."

Responses to the request for ideas were received from a diverse cross section of career fields and ranks spanning multiple services, and ranged from quality of life initiatives to career progression concerns.

“The team is pouring over inputs provided by Airmen from throughout AMC,” said Brig. Gen. Samuel Mahaney, AMC deputy director of operations and AMC Aviation Retention Task Force chair. “We are listening to AMC Airmen, acknowledging their informed observations, and considering both their evolutionary and revolutionary suggestions.”

According to Everhart, the pilot resource scarcity is not a temporary challenge. Our nation’s current and forecasted pilot supply will not meet future demands of both the military and commercial sectors.

“Over the next four years more than 1,600 mobility pilots will become eligible to separate,” said Everhart. “If current trends continue, Mobility Air Force will be short more than 400 pilots by fiscal year 2022 illustrating the pilot shortage is not looming; it is here.”

AMC leadership recognize the constants, a demand for mobility services in any future global environment and the reliance on total force solutions to resolve force challenges.

“Every Airman is unique with specific skills used to accomplish the mission effectively,” said Mahaney. “As a group, AMC Airmen have [varied] retention concerns.  We deploy differently, we train differently, we exercise differently, and we are constantly in demand.  This is why it is so important that our solutions create a quality of service that allows Airmen to execute their mission without unneeded distractions and maintain a quality of life that allows Airmen and their families to thrive.”

Today, the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard pilot manning is at 94 percent for Reserve and 85 percent for Air National Guard, which comprise 60 percent of the total Mobility Air Force capability in manpower and aircraft. According to Everhart, the aviation retention concern is a total force issue.

"With the Mobility Air Forces, ensuring a strong Total Force perspective and capability is critical, because a manning deficit in any one area impacts the collective team," said Everhart.

By fostering transparent, productive dialogue among the aviation community, AMC capitalizes on Airmen ingenuity to fully address retention issues for aircrew, maintenance and possibly a multitude of other career fields across the command.

“Because of General Everhart's leadership in requesting frank and forthright input from AMC Airmen, we now have hundreds of individual inputs from across AMC,” said Mahaney. “Those inputs are front and center and are truly the driving factor of this effort.”

Everhart most recently used the task force to prepare inputs when he attended the National Pilot Shortage meeting with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein May 18, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia. Everhart and Goldfein met with airline executives, flight operations, union representatives, and Air Force and sister-service aviation leaders to discuss ways to improve collaboration between airlines and the military.