U.S. Air Force Sweetens Enhancements For New Recruits


“We have warning lights flashing,” said Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas, the officer in charge of recruiting for the U.S. Air Force. His warning, issued earlier this year, comes in contrast to the sentiment just four months earlier, when the service achieved its recruiting and staffing goals for the first time in half a decade. According to Air Force Magazine, more than 500,000 currently serve in the Department of the Air Force, including 326,000 active-duty airmen and Space Force “guardians.”

In January, Thomas said, “We believe FY22 goals are attainable but will be tougher to accomplish than in at least a dozen years. Two years into COVID-19 and amid U.S. labor shortages, our pool of qualified applicants is about half of what it should be at this point in the year.”

As a result, Thomas said on Monday (April 11), “As we roll up our sleeves in the battle for talent, we’ve got to remain competitive as we go after our next generation of airmen.” To help meet that challenge the service is offering enlistment bonuses for more than a dozen jobs in maintenance, cyber operations, linguistics and special operations through Sept. 30. There is also an $8,000 bonus to sign on as an active-duty airman able to launch basic training within five days should a last-minute slot become available.

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. Maybe all the focus on pronouns and the “woke” agenda have discouraged those that no longer fill that the military has its mission priorities correct.

  2. Perhaps you should do a better job of composing your comment so that your political biases aren’t the only thing you express.

    • Hello Chip – understood that you don’t agree with Gregory’s choice of terms, but the content of what he’s saying has merit. My son visited all the recruiters, and the changes being seen in the “chair force” (haha) in recent years regarding emphasis on social justice adjustment are a discouragement to many and a tool for Army/Navy/Marine recruiters that compete against them. My son ended up joining another branch, as did his friends making the same choices.

  3. Fine. But this is an aviation forum, and his post was void of any salient content OTHER than a politically-oriented snark. That’s called “trolling”, and this isn’t The FaceBook.

  4. Face it. There is trolling on this comment section. Unfortunate, but true. The issue however, goes beyond simply trolling. I welcome political commentary if it is based on deep understanding, preferably within an historical context, which provides contextual understanding. So, for those of you who are motivated by an urge, after all, politics is about emotions as well, before you fire off what you think is a brilliant remark, maybe engage the admittedly at times boring part of our brains, and do a bit of analysis. Thanks!

  5. Yes, Claudia. I did GO to school, I retained my sense of humor, and I learned to spell (and proofread) what I write. Yet I fail to see how Gregory’s political response to the Air Force’s effort to be more inclusive, could explain fewer applicants. It appears that his tribal allegiance trumps logic.

  6. I got a $6k bonus when I enlisted in 2001. That’s $9745 in today’s money. They’ll have to do better than $8k if they’re going to attract talent.

    Further, the old system of “hang out and get promoted” doesn’t work anymore. It only encourages good, talented people to leave because they are unable to effect change due to the bureaucratic calcification that permeates the DoD. With the blended retirement system, leaving after 6-10 years doesn’t hurt so bad anymore.

  7. I imagine mandatory Covid ‘vaccines’ are deterring many from signing up. And before remarking that the military has always mandated inoculations for various diseases, the covid vaccines are not ordinary ‘vaccines’. In fact, not vaccines at all. From a former Navy pilot, here.

    • Mr. C-
      If the COVID vaccines are not vaccines, what class of medication are they? Vaccines create antibodies to prevent infections or dampen immune response to infections. The COVID vaccines were developed with newer technology. They are still vaccines. From former US Army; current board certified physician.

  8. @Chip The politics of an organization is obviously a factor in which one considers in joining that organization. Thus, the politics of the organization is a salient factor in making that choice. Your dismissal of that is what is what actually trumps logic.

  9. So enlistment in the USAF is being impaired significantly by “Covid vaccine mandates” and by “wokism”?! Oh for Pete’ sake. People, please get out of your braindead media bubble for a second or two. The fact is we have a labor shortage ALL OVER the economy. Help wanted signs are everywhwere. I can’t get enough workers in my company. The airlines are cancelling flights due to lack of staffing. It’s everywhere. Why should the USAF be any different? The General is saying they need to offer a competitive value proposition to recruits to make their numbers. Simple as that. No need to go to Tucker Crazy Town for explanations for this situation. [PS. Please get vaccinated and then boosted at appropriate intervals. My best friend died of Covid 19 because he believed nonsense spewed by delusional people like Dennis C. This is a life and death matter, as DJT himself has clearly stated, to his credit.]

  10. If we’re nominating socio-political-economic factors to explain USAF’s difficulties, I go for the generalized view prevalent among so many young people that “work” is an optional component of life. Think about the families you know who have children in their 20’s, 30’s and even 40’s still living at home and merely dabbling at life.

    Through some combination of parental support and continuing largesse from a government that doles out from all sorts of programs, far too many find it easy to mostly avoid committing to a life of productive, self-supporting work. And any moral or other qualms they may feel during this float through life are soothed away by the prevailing social attitude that individual responsibility is an oxymoron…or racist, or something.

    Admittedly, I’m both a crotchety 80+ retiree and strongly influenced by my own experience of enlisting in the Air Force at 18, learning a useful trade and using it as a springboard to a financially stable life for myself & my family. But that’s my take on it.