The U.S. Air Force has begun slashing its workforce by 3,500 employees through offers of incentives to its civilian workers to meet the requirements of the 2011 Budget Control Act.
If the incentives aren't effective in bringing about voluntary reductions and reducing the number of employees by 20 percent, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel warned that mandatory cuts soon will be on the way, Defense One
In the budget agreement cut by Congress in 2011, the Air Force is mandated to cut $50 billion from its budget, with the total 2014 budget set at $138.3 billion. The majority of cuts are expected to land on the Pentagon bureaucracy.
Across-the-board downsizing has hit the entire U.S. defense establishment, with budgets cut from a wartime high of $700 billion in 2011 to an anticipated total expenditure of $500 billion in 2015, according to The Colorado Springs Gazette.
The Air Force announcement comes about two weeks after the U.S. Army released a plan for staggering cuts at bases around the country.
The Army proposal could cut two-thirds of the soldiers based at Fort Carson in Colorado, but that's a plan that's highly unlikely, according to The Gazette.
The budget cuts for the Army call for forces to be reduced from 520,000 to 440,000, and Marine forces to be cut from 190,000 to 182,000, with a 5 percent reduction in Army National Guard and Army Reserve forces.
Army officials are expected to decide on the plan this fall, The Gazette reported.
The Air Force is expected to save $1.6 billion over five years through the cuts.
"It's better for Airmen because it provides them predictability and allows us to re-stabilize out workforce sooner," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told Defense One.
"It also allows us to harvest the savings earlier so that we can plow it back into readiness and some of our key modernization programs."
In all, the Air Force will cut 20,000 military positions as well, many through eliminating positions that were never filled during a hiring freeze.
Saying the country needs to increase, not decrease, its defense spending, Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado blasted President Barack Obama's administration, saying it was to blame for the latest defense cuts.
The plan will do away with 275 jobs, both military and civilian, at Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, and another 3,225 positions at bases around the nation.
Space Command employees supervise the U.S. military satellite system, along with GPS, or the Global Positioning System. In all, about $1 billion is expected to be cut from the Air Force Space Command's annual $12 billion budget, according to The Gazette.
James, secretary of the Air Force
, said she'll make sure "the world's best Air Force is the most capable at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer.
"Everyone knows that our economy is still not where it should be. We have a responsibility to ensure that every dollar adds value to the taxpayers and our national defense," she said.
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