“Force Shaping” is a dirty little pair of words in the Air Force.
If you haven’t heard it before, it’s the nicely worded phrase for “someone’s going to get fired.” Well, maybe that’s a little extreme, but it’s the term coined to describe how they thin the herd, typically amongst the active-duty Airmen. It happens in a variety of ways, either voluntary (retirements, people getting out of the military by choice) or involuntary (people being discharged). How can you be proactive during this time of instability, if you think you’re on the chopping block but you still want to serve?
In light of recent Force Shaping with the Air Force, I have gotten a whole inbox full of questions from AD friends about joining the Air Guard.
I personally left AD Air Force and Palace Chased into the Air National Guard. My reasoning was due to my son being born 7 weeks premature. We decided as a family that my husband would stay in and I would Palace Chase. Our little boy needed someone at home to take care of his needs. So in this instance, I sacrificed my career for the love of this precious little boy.
So how did I do it?
Many of my friends want to know if it is easy and or if it is a good option to take during Force Shaping.
I personally believe it is.
There are two ways to join the Guard or Reserve from the AD of ANY branch of service.
But before you do that, you have to determine which service you want to join. You can log on to GoAng.com or AFReserve.com you will then be set up with an in-service recruiter. Or you can find the in-service recruiter normally at the Professional Development Center on your base. This is where you determine which branch you will join.
My first reason I decided to join the Air National Guard was that as AD we worked very closely with our Guard counterparts. I felt that I would be more comfortable moving into an office where I already knew the folks that worked there. The second reason was due to the fact that they didn’t have my job open in the Air Reserve the idea of retraining with a newborn while my husband was deployed did not sound like very much fun, or driving 2 hours away every Drill Weekend.
Once you determine what service you want to join the recruiter will help you with the process of staring your application and deciding if you want to Palace Chase or Palace Front. At this point, your recruiter will let you know if your job is available or if you will need to consider retraining.
The first way to join the Guard or Reserve is Palace Chase.
This process can be as short as 6 weeks, which was the case for me. You have to meet certain qualifications in order to be approved for Palace Chase. Your Functional Manager will determine if you can leave AD considering manning in the career field you are in, your PT scores if you are on a profile if you are on a control roster, and if you are a First Term Airmen you must complete at least HALF of your initial enlistment before you are able to qualify for Palace Chase.
Once you meet all of those qualifications you are free to apply for Palace Chase via AFPC.
When you get approval which I said could be as little as 6 weeks, but could take much longer, then you will determine your enlistment date into your new unit. You will then officially begin the separation process.
Keep in mind you will have to serve DOUBLE the amount of time you have remaining on AD. For instance, I was at the 1-year mark of my 2nd term of enlistment. I had 3 years remaining on my enlistment, so when I enlisted in the Air National Guard I had to serve 6 years in the Guard.
There is no application process at AFPC for Palace Front, which means there is no worry overmanning issues. The service member would contact an in-service recruiter and line up a job at the end of the current enlistment. Once the service member has separated from AD at the end of their enlistment they will transition into the Guard or Reserve at that point.
A note or two :
-You will in most cases keep the rank that you have earned.
-You will also continue to earn points towards retirement with the Guard and Reserve.
Hopefully, this provides a little relief in helping you decide what to do if you are on the list for Force Shaping.
Thanks so much, Dina! If you’re interested in reading the actual regulation about the Palace Chase and Palace Front programs, check out AFI 36-3205.
I’m a 31 year old Navy sister, Army wife - Air Force wife to a prior service Marine/Soldier, and an Air Force Reservist. I am a happy wife and mother. My husband switched branches and joined me in the Air Force Reserve. We look forward to a future of dual military service!