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12305, (“Authority of President to suspend certain laws relating to promotion, retirement, and separation”), which is the federal law giving the services authority to retain servicemembers beyond their commitments as required by national security.

By invoking Stop Loss in this way, AFPC has dramatically changed the calculus governing retirement decisions and approvals.Given that airmen must request retirement and have it approved by local commanders (as well as AFPC), this change gives the chain of command negative control over the timing of a servicemember’s retirement, and creates an open door to abuse by commanders wracked with deployment bills they can’t pay without compromising unit missions.This new provision will tempt commanders to deny retirements pre-emptively in anticipation of upcoming deployments, locking servicemembers into involuntary service in an “all volunteer” military despite the absence of a service commitment.An email circulating among Air Force personnel channels is quietly putting human resource offices on notice of a new service policy that requires airmen to deploy beyond the duration of their service commitments.The new guidance instructs personnelists to deny retirement requests filed by airmen who have been selected to deploy, which basically enacts a back-door conscription policy just one year after the Air Force voluntarily slashed 19,000 airmen from its workforce.

The recent message attempts to explain changes to Air Force Instruction (AFI) 36-3203, which the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) relies upon to guide disposition of requests for retirement.

The essence of the message is that airmen who are eligible to retire will not be permitted to do so in lieu of an extended deployment unless they gain approval before AFPC selects them to fill a deployed billet.

This is a dramatic change that has not been well-communicated to the field.

I spoke with several commanders today at multiple levels, and none had heard about the shift, which they say could create the unintended consequence of encouraging airmen to retire as soon as they are eligible.

This would, in turn, exacerbate manning issues that are already crippling many career fields. [Members in upcoming vulnerability periods] should carefully consider this new policy and solidify their retirement plans prior to being tasked for a deployment.

Table 2.1, to which the message refers, cites a rule stating the Secretary of the Air Force is authorized to suspend retirement approvals based on various authorities, including Title 10 USC Sec.