The Air Force is facing a ‘quiet crisis’ of manpower, but recruitment isn’t the problem

The Air Force’s ranks grew during the 2016 fiscal year, but as of April this year the service was still more than 1,500 pilots short of the 20,300 it is mandated to have.Of those missing, roughly 1,000 are fighter pilots. And the service stands to lose 1,600 more fliers over the next four years.

“We are in a crisis,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said in late September. “If we don’t find a way to turn this around, our ability to defend the nation is compromised.”

The pilot shortage has been a problem for some time — Goldfein also called it a “quiet crisis” in summer 2016 — and stems from a number of sources, but it doesn’t appear that getting pilots to sign up is one of them.


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