Air Force Pauses, Resumes PCS Moves Over Budget Issues
Air Force permanent change of station moves and bonus pay are being restored by emergency funding after those programs were suspended due to budget problems.
In July 2023, the DoD announced a pause in PCS moves for Air Force troops as lawmakers from Colorado and Alabama were reported to have held up supplemental military funding in a budget dispute over the location of the proposed home of U.S. Space Command.
Around the same time, and for the same reasons, the Air Force announced it would suspend special duty bonuses for many critically-staffed Air Force career fields.
But the Air Force was authorized for partial emergency funding, which was earmarked for what some military officials call “strategically vital” programs. Some of those funds have made it possible to “unfreeze” some PCS moves and restore some bonuses to short-staffed Air Force jobs.
Air Force Specialties Affected By Budget Cuts
When the Air Force initially announced its list of career fields that would no longer qualify for special duty assignment pay, it provided a list of the affected fields, which include but is not limited to the following:
- President’s Emergency Ops Center
- Cryptologic Language Analyst
- Electronic Security Systems
- Aircraft Battle Damage Repair Exp Depot Mx
- Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)
- Army Support Weather Ops
- 52nd Munitions Maintenance Group NC3
- Airborne Mission System Operators
- Flight Engineers
- Sensor Operators
- Special Mission Aviators
- RPA Cyber Technicians
- International Enlisted Engagements Managers
- Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System
- Super High-Frequency Operators
- Honor Guard
- Radar, Airfield, & Weather Systems
- Casualty Cell
- Military Working Dog Handlers
Near the end of July 2023, unofficial sources leaked details of the Air Force’s plan to reinstate the bonuses. According to an unofficial Facebook page, the leak included mention of the Air Force’s Selective Retention Bonus, which, according to the unofficial information, “will restart and previously eligible Airmen will be able to re-enlist and sign a SRB contract.”
Those who qualified for Foreign Language Proficiency Pay and Assignment Pay will have the chance to be considered for those pays again.
AF.mil, the Air Force official site, published an official version of this information, which includes the following;
“The SRB program will be reinstated this month for all eligible career fields. Eligible Airmen reenlisting or extending for a bonus can immediately take action to contract for a bonus. Airmen previously eligible for a bonus who extended until October 1, 2023, may now work with their Military Personnel Flights for exceptions to policy to now take action to contract for a bonus.”
PCS Moves Resume
Now that lawmakers have provided emergency funds to the Air Force, some will resume the PCS process. Those who were meant to get underway with a PCS move in September may be allowed to proceed, but those who were scheduled to PCS in fiscal year 2024 may be delayed.
Air Force members moving in the next 60 days “should receive their permanent change of station, or PCS, orders by the end of July, or at least 30 days before their departure date, the Air Force said. Service members typically receive orders 60-120 days ahead of moving day” as reported in Air Force Times.
Those overseas who were meant to return to CONUS between October 2023 and December 2023 may still have to wait until March 2024, but exceptions to policy may be possible, according to AF.mil, the official page of the U.S. Air Force.
Those who wish an exception to policy (ETP for short) must do so through the chain of command, with Wing Commanders and the Air Force Personnel Center having the authority to approve or deny such requests.
About the author
Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.